Jesse Marsch: “It’s frustrating. … It’s been a perplexing problem that we’ve had.” (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)
By Michael Lewis
Front Row Soccer Editor
Another vital two-game series with much at stake and more utter frustration and disappointment.
The Red Bulls still struggle mightily when they play aggregate-goal series.
Since 2009, the Red Bulls have played in 11 aggregate-goals series and emerged victorious twice, in the MLS Eastern Conference semifinals in 2014 and 2015.
They started their futility in the CONCACAF Champions League play-in series with DirecTV W Connection (Trinidad & Tobago), losing that total goals series under the direction of head coach Juan Carlos Osorio in 2009. Hans Backe (2010-2012), Mike Petke (2013-14) and Jesse Marsch (2015-16) have tried their luck at improving on that mark in the playoffs, but have fallen woefully short for the most part.
The latest failure came Thursday night when the Red Bulls were eliminated from the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals in a 2-0 defeat at the Vancouver Whitecaps at B.C. Place. New York squandered a fabulous opportunity to gain an advantage at home by playing to a 1-1 draw at Red Bull Arena last week.
“It’s frustrating,” Marsch said during the postgame press conference. “We looked at it carefully. We thought about how to get better in some of these moments. We’re trying to prepare our team to be up for the challenge in the biggest games. It’s been a perplexing problem that we’ve had.”
Marsch said he and the team weren’t about to give up.
“But it won’t deter us,” he said. “We’ll keep finding ways to get better and get stronger. Listen, everybody is putting so much into it on how to figure out how to get this club over the hump. I feel like when one domino falls a lot of others will start to go with it.
“These moments are hard to swallow. They are. You have to find a way to be very resilient in this business and be strong when things are the toughest. We’ll have a quick turnaround, which I think will be a good thing.”
He was referring to Sunday’s Major League Soccer season opener at Atlanta United.
“We’re going to gather ourselves and make sure we have a good start to the season and prepare ourselves to push hard for our goals this year,” Marsch added.
That would be to make the playoffs, where the Red Bulls will face another two-game, aggregate series. They will have 34 games over eight months to figure that out.