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February 22, 2017
Marsch optimistic despite opening leg draw at Red Bull Arena

HARRISON, N.J. -- New York Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch believes the team’s attacking style could pay off when it visits the Vancouver Whitecaps for the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals Thursday, March 2.

“Yeah, I mean, obviously the score line is important when you're at halftime, which is where we are,” Marsch said after the Red Bulls and Whitecaps drew, 1-1, Wednesday night. “We have to go there and score. We know that, but you know we always go on the road and look to be the aggressor. It shapes up for another interesting game, because I think there'll be some tentativeness to both teams and some conservative approach. But, you know, the game I think will take some twists and turns as it moves on and I think it sets up for a very interesting second leg.

“Certainly we're going to go there and try to put the game on our terms like we always do and go after them and, you know, I thought, I knew this was set up to be a dangerous game for us because Vancouver likes to sit back, they like to defend. It's easier to do those things earlier in the season because teams aren't quite sharp, because we're not quite sharp enough, we're not able to capitalize and take advantage of certain situations. Then, we go down a goal off a set piece, which we knew would be important, and then we had to push the game.

“Given everything, I was really happy with the second half. I thought that we actually looked quite good, we were brave and we were more decisive going after the game. That part was good, so we came out of halftime, obviously we missed a penalty but still kept pushing the game and ultimately, given everything, it's not a terrible result, so we'll be ready for next week.”

Marsch said the Red Bulls were frustrated.

“Yeah, it reminds me a little of our first game against Toronto last year at home here,” Marsch said, “where we had a lot of the possession, we were creating a lot of half-chances, but we weren't sharp enough on the day and at the end of the game we let two plays slip and we end up walking away from that game losing 2-zero, going 'how the heck did that happen?'

“Again, for me, the overall response in the second half was real positive and we showed some real good moments. We were pretty sharp, we were pretty dangerous, and a little unlucky not to fight more out of it. I think we'll look at that second half and use it to build on for next week.”

The Red Bulls were seeded higher than the Whitecaps in the MLS playoffs the last two years.

“Yeah, listen, it's a little different as well because it's the first game of the year versus the end of the year and it has a totally different feel to it,” Marsch said. “Both teams are really excited about this tournament and if we're a little bit sharper on some plays around the goal then I think we could've easily managed to find a lead and expand upon it. It didn't go that way, so now we'll have a chance, Vancouver is always good at home, it's a tough place to play and we'll go there and we'll throw everything at them. It should be set up for a really fun match.

Marsch varied formations from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-2-2-2.

“Yeah, you know we were, I didn't feel like first half we gave much away,” Marsch said of the scheme. “As usual, you see that there are some counterattacks in there; especially when we play at home, because we have the ball a lot and we're trying to probe and find chances and then if you lose balls and aren't controlling the spaces in the back you can set up the other way.

“You know, I think, you could see some really good moments, I think, with Gonzalo (Veron) and Brad (Wright-Phillips) and then trying to get Sacha (Kljestan) involved. Overall, I thought it's a day that doesn't come down to tactics as much as just the flow of the game, going after the game the right way and then making a couple plays.”

Said Red Bulls midfielder Sean Davis: “Yeah, we worked on it (the formation) a lot in pre-season, I think the staff has done a great job in making it a lot more clear for the guys. Things are a lot more defined than the last pre-season when we worked on it and, for me, personally, I feel pretty good in it whether we are doing the 4-2-3-1 or 4-2-2-2. I think Felipe and I are building our relationship and things are feeling a lot more comfortable from game to game.

“Yeah, we knew that Vancouver are a very physical team. You know, you just got to look at their performance from last season to know that. And we know that they are a team that like to be physical and try to put their stamp on the game that way, so we went into the game expecting that and I think at times in the game you guys saw that. But, I think, for the most part I thought we handled that well and we were able to break them down a few times by playing forward, playing quickly and getting into the box.

“I think last season we had a lot of experiences down in Central America that helped us prepare for a game like tonight. I think those experiences were really important and this doesn't really compare as much as a game in Central America where you know teams are more physical than Vancouver. You have to give Vancouver credit, they were very physical and that is their game plan and they were ready to hit us on the counter. I think the experiences in Central America helped us prepare for tonight but Vancouver plays a slightly different style.”

Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson talked about squandering the lead.

“If I'm being honest with you, and I think people who know me know I'm honest, they were actually disappointed that we conceded a goal,” Robinson said, “because when you put that work in, and I wouldn't say it was a great goal for them, it was a cross and it was a little ricochet. And, obviously, we know then that they've got an actual goal-scorer in their ranks, and he took his chance. We maybe dodged a bullet with the penalty, and were a little lucky there, so maybe they deserved their goal.

“Again, we've been hit with injuries prior to this game. Obviously there's one or two that will be missing next weekend, as well. If we're going to go through, we're going to go through against all odds, and that's what makes this game sweet.

“We're in a decent position but Red Bulls are a good team, and they can score on the road, we know that. The objective today in our play was to try and get that goal. The way we set up with our players and personnel, we wanted to attack quickly. I thought you saw it time and time again. I was actually disappointed that we only managed to score the one goal, because we got into some great situations with overloads of 3-v-2s and 4-v-3s and made wrong decisions, but that's what happens with young players. You don't criticize them, you get back to work and try and give them pictures to make other decisions and one game they'll get it right. Today we got it right at times with the goal, but we obviously got it wrong at other times. We'll continue to work with them because there is some exciting attacking talent out there on our side.”

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