Red Bulls assistant coach Chris Armas (center) and sporting director Denis Hamlett (right) watch the MLS combine in January. (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)
CHESTER, Pa. — For the second time in as many seasons, Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch left a game at Talen Energy Park early.
Only this time, he did so on his own volition.
Last July, Marsch was dismissed from the bench by the referee in New York’s elimination defeat in the Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup.
On Sunday, after Bradley Wright-Phillips tallied his second goal to give the Red Bulls some breathing room in what turned out to be a 2-0 victory, Marsch left the bench for a car that would take him to Kennedy Airport in Queens. He needed to catch a plane to take him to Poland for another session in the UEFA Pro License course.
Marsch gave the reins of the team to assistant coach Chris Armas.
“I was thinking ‘Ah, do not mess this up,’ ” Armas said.
“I think we had a good handle on the game from there and I did not really think too much about it,” Armas said. “We knew beforehand that might be the case and there is always dialogue going of what the final minutes will look like and we had some good talk going into it, how to manage the end of the game if we would need to push the game or close it out. It felt very comfortable.”
Armas, who ran the show of the Red Bulls’ 1-0 Open Cup win over New York City FC because Marsch was suspended from the game, will be in charge of the team while head coach is across the pond and he isn’t expected back until the end of the week.
“We have talked in detail about what the week would look like and we have a typical schedule,” Armas said. “The good thing is, we are playing an opponent next weekend that we just played, so we know the preparation is almost to repeat what we just went through last week.”
That would be NYCFC in the first of three league encounters of the Hudson River Derby this year. Armas will give the team off for a couple of days.
“We have a good plan going into New York,” he said. “Right now it is about enjoying this win and stay with a good mentality and get ready physically and mentally for what is ahead.”