As the days get hotter, so do the New York Red Bulls.
For a third straight year, they seem to be heating up as the summer rolls along.
Far from a summer swoon, the Red Bulls have won three of their last four games in regular-season play and have come out victorious in six of their last seven matches across all competitions.
The Red Bulls are roaring into the proverbial ‘dog days,’ after a 5-1 win on Wednesday night over the San Jose Earthquakes, the latest exhibit for a portfolio that is growing in strength.
It’s just in time for another summer run of results, in what has now become an annual tradition for this squad.
“I think that in the heat we’ve had good results, I think our record is quite good. I think it’s also just partly getting everybody fit enough, getting everybody locked in, getting things moving in the right direction,” Marsch said on Thursday.
“Listen, I think you can criticize me for that too and say that ‘it’s taken too long’ and ‘When am I going to figure it out?’ [We] shouldn’t wait until June for our team to come together.”
Marsch went on to say that some of his players weren’t fit enough heading into preseason which can have a trickle down effect for a slow start. There is no denying though that over the past two years — and certainly now — the Red Bulls’ form turns red hot when it becomes flip-flop weather.
But why the strength in the heat of summer over the past three seasons? It mainly is in their makeup.
This organization, in many ways, is built to not just withstand but thrive during hot and humid conditions. Unlike previous incarnations of the Red Bulls who were veteran-laden, the group under Marsch has gotten younger and more athletic, a team built to better cope with high temperatures. Recovery time is less between matches and younger bodies simply can handle the tough temperatures better than older players.
In addition to being younger, the team also doesn’t have as many international players as in past years. When international tournaments happen in the summer, the Red Bulls’ depth doesn’t take as much of a hit as other teams around the league. They also have young depth on their bench, another added bonus to withstand the heat.
The team’s vaunted high press and counter-pressing causes opponents to chase the game and wilt in the high temperatures.
“I know that’s the nice thing about being around for awhile – if you can last long enough – you can get to know your team pretty well, can get to know the personnel and get to know when things are starting to move in the right direction,” Marsch said.
“We’ve been very positive but at the same time, in those moments, it is also key to keep your foot on the gas and so like even today, I was really on top of training to make sure there’s no complacency.
“Yeah, we have to keep pushing.”
– Aurelien Collin, out with a hamstring injury the past few weeks, may not be a go for Saturday’s match at Minnesota United. Minnesota plays on turf which can aggravate the injury.
“I don’t know, this is taking longer than I thought,” Marsch said of Collin’s availability.
The center back was thought to be good to go last week in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup, but did not play.
“He just has swelling in the back of his leg, that’s odd. Each day we think that tomorrow is going to be the day and we get him in training – it’s just taken long.”
– Connor Lade didn’t have a muscle pull when he was substituted in the first half, which good news, but Marsch still termed the full back as “day-to-day” for this weekend’s match.
– Marsch said that Tyler Adams, who cramped late in Wednesday night’s game, was fine and good to go.
– Gonzalo Veron came into the San Jose match as a second half substitute and set up the Red Bulls’ second goal.
Marsch was asked Thursday if the Argentine attacker is making a case for the Starting XI.
“Listen, yes the answer to that is yes, he’s continuing to get better and sharper. The Starting XI part, he’s also super effective off the bench. When the game opens up a little bit he can be very explosive and very dangerous,” Marsch said.
“When the game is a little bit tighter, it is hard for him to find the game. He doesn’t prevent me from using him from the start. We’ll see, we’ll see how we chose to use him for Saturday.”
– Right back Michael Amir Murillo, fresh off several strong performances for Panama in the Gold Cup, will travel with the Red Bulls to Minnesota and will be available for selection. He was at the team’s facility on Thursday following Panama’s 1-0 loss to Costa Rica in Philadelphia.