Chris Armas got thumb’s up from the Red Bulls players as he filled in for Jesse Marsch this week. (Keith Furman/ Photo)

By Michael Lewis

Front Row Soccer Editor

With head coach Jesse Marsch attending a coaching course, his first lieutenant took over for a couple of days this week.

Assistant coach Chris Armas ran the show at the Red Bulls Training Facility in Hanover, N.J. Wednesday and Thursday while Marsch took the first U.S. Soccer Pro Course.

The former U.S. international and Chicago Fire defensive midfielder got a thumb’s up from the players.

“He’s been brilliant. The two days he’s been very good,” striker Bradley Wright-Phillips told reporters after practice. “He’s put on some good sessions. He’s very positive. He’s there to just brighten up things. It’s a nice little change.”

Armas, 44, brought his personality into his coaching, but did not waver from Marsch’s overall game plan.

“Chris is a guy who brings a lot of energy,” midfielder Felipe said. “He’s a smart guy. He has been around for a long time. He, of course, knows the game. Every time he speaks he speaks with his heart.”

And of course, with his brain as well.

“It’s been a different experience the last two days,” goalkeeper Luis Robles said. “The coaching staff is all on the same page. So, it isn’t as if that philosophy has changed or that the tactics have changed or even the understanding of our task has changed. He’s echoed and he continues to echo the same type of things that Jesse would harp on us. When we did video, he was critical on us the same way Jesse would be critical. For us, it’s just another work week.”

Armas has become a hot commodity on the coaching stage.

During the offseason Armas reportedly was to be promoted to head coach with Marsch moving to Red Bull Salzburg, but that did not materialize.

Real Salt Lake, which fired head coach Jeff Cassar Monday, approached Armas about the job, but the Red Bulls assistant turned down a request for an interview. As it turns out, the Red Bulls host RSL at Red Bull Arena Saturday at 4 p.m.

Armas mixed some humor in with his workout and video session.

“He’s done well. Jesse, be careful,” BWP said, eliciting laughter from the assembled media.