With Marsch on Short Leave, Armas Runs the Show

With head coach Jesse Marsch absent for two training sessions this week, the New York Red Bulls have turned to Chris Armas to lead things ahead of this weekend’s match against Real Salt Lake.

It is an opportunity for Armas to show his coaching chops, as well as his personality.

Absent due to a two-day coaching course in Europe, Marsch left the team in the hands of Armas, his assistant for the past two seasons and a player who is among the best defensive midfielders in MLS history. Armas carved out a fantastic career in the league that also included being a regular on the United States national team. Now, he is being viewed as a future head coach, perhaps with this very Red Bulls team.

And now for two days, he’s running training — sessions that have forward Bradley Wright-Phillips teasingly saying, “Jesse, be careful.”

“He’s been brilliant. For two days he’s been very good and has put in some good sessions,” Wright-Phillips said on Thursday. “If you know Chris, he’s very positive and he just brightens things up. It’s been a nice little change.”

Marsch is expected back on Friday and will coach the team on Saturday. The team hasn’t missed a beat in his absence.

There have been twists to the sessions as well, with Armas putting together a motivational clip before Thursday’s film session. And on Wednesday, he did a team-wide film session that included an extensive look at defender Aaron Long, who has been very solid in three league starts this year.

He asked Long what song he wanted to accompany the clip. The 24-year old central defender selected “Hotel” by hip-hop recording artist Cassidy.

“Everything is the exact same. We know what we’re trying to do here. We’re ready for Saturday,” Long said. “He puts his spin on things. He has his way with the guys that maybe Jesse has a different way. It’s all good; it’s all for the same cause.

“Armas is a guy that really can slow things down, talk to players individually and make people laugh.”

And apparently, Armas is open to hip-hop as well.

Red Bulls Notes

  • Red Bulls Academy product Macello Borges took the semester off from Michigan to play with the U-20 national team, but was injured prior to the qualifying process for the World Cup. Since then, he has been with the Red Bulls, even training two weeks ago with the first team. On Thursday, he was training with the USL squad.
  • Winger Gonzalo Veron (hamstring) did not train with the team and instead had a session in the gym.
  • Long has had a very strong start to the MLS season, the third-year defender having played every minute of every match to date. Turns out athletics run in the family with his mother Kandi having played collegiate softball and basketball; his father was also a multi-sport athlete. Kandi would always tease Aaron, saying that he got his athletic ability from her. Aaron credits his father and grandfather for some other contributions to his gene pool as well. “I’m going to say the mental side of the game, he’s big on the mental side for sure,” Long said of his father. “Looks and personality, from my grandpa.”