June 28, 2016
FOCUSED ON THE CUP, NOT THE DERBY
Red Bulls concerned about Philly in Open Cup before even thinking about NYC FC
By Kristian R. Dyer
|Mike Grella: “It’s all about Philadelphia for me and certainly for the group. It’s the most important game, it’s the next game at hand.”
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
BigAppleSoccer.com Contributing Editor
HANOVER, N.J. – There is a much-hyped match this Sunday at Yankee Stadium for the Red Bulls, who face rival New York City FC in yet another derby match. But in many ways, the bigger match comes midweek for the Red Bulls.
On Wednesday night the Red Bulls will look to advance in the Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup in the Round of 16, traveling down to Chester, Pa. to play at the Philadelphia Union.
A win would put the Red Bulls into the quarterfinals of the tournament and would be a chance at revenge against the team that knocked them out of the tournament last season.
Winning the U.S. Open Cup is something this franchise has never done, reaching the finals in 2003 as the MetroStars, when they lost to the Chicago Fire at Giants Stadium, 1-0. But success has never come in this tournament, frustratingly so at some points, something this incarnation of the franchise hopes to rectify this year.
And that is the focus they are claiming, even with the buzz swirling already about Sunday’s derby match. That buzz hasn’t made it to inside the team’s facility, not yet.
“It’s all about Philadelphia for me and certainly for the group. It’s the most important game, it’s the next game at hand,” midfielder Mike Grella said Tuesday following training. “As soon as Philly ends, I’m sure we’ll get on to New York and we have plenty of days to rest and prepare for that. But right now, for sure, it’s about Philadelphia.”
A Wednesday night win would mean a lot to the Red Bulls, especially after a tough week in which the team blew two road leads and took a single point in the standings from that stretch. A chance to advance to the final eight in the cup is about positive momentum.
The lineup at the Union figures to be strong with a good bulk of first team players in the mix.
“We haven’t even thought about New York City – just when you mentioned it…it was kind of a reminder that that game is coming up. Because we’re so focused on this match and this match means so much to us," head coach Jesse Marsch said. "I think we’ve done a good job of regenerating with a bunch of different guys. The fact that we’ve rotated throughout this roadtrip means that we have some fresher legs. We’re going to put a good team on the field and certainly prioritize what we’re doing on Wednesday. And then in all ways, we’ll just move on afterwards like we normally do. That usually hasn’t been a problem here. We usually can compartmentalize and get through things one day at a time, one game at a time.
“We’ll put out a strong team again, we’ll rotate a little bit just to make sure we get fresh legs on the field which is important for the way we play and that we’re not risking injury by overusing guys. We kind of have had a blueprint – the blueprint was thrown off a little bit by Aurélien [Collin’s] suspension and now by Gideon’s [Baah] injury a little bit – but we still have a good idea in mind as to who we want to use where [them].”