Sacha Kljestan: “If we go in overconfident against them, I don’t think we’re very smart. Though we have to go into the game with a nice confidence about ourselves, but not overconfident.” (Keith Furman/FrontRowSoccer.com Photo)
HANOVER, N.J. — Coming of their smashing, 4-0 rout at the Chicago Fire in the MLS knockout round Wednesday night, the Red Bulls certainly are confident in themselves.
But they’re not overconfident because their opponents in the Eastern Conference semifinals are Toronto FC, the Supporters Shield winners that ran ram shod throughout the league this season. New York hosts Toronto in the first leg of the aggregate-goals at Red Bull Arena Monday at 7:30 p.m.
“I don’t think so,” Sacha Kljestan said after training at the Red Bull Training Facility Friday. “We’re going up against Toronto, which set many records in the league this year and probably one of the best teams in Major League Soccer history. If we go in overconfident against them, I don’t think we’re very smart. Though we have to go into the game with a nice confidence about ourselves, but not overconfident.”
It’s a question of walking a thin line and not getting a big head. But then again, Toronto will put many teams in its place before the opening kickoff, given its overwhelming success this season.
“In general, it’s always a balancing act, that part being confident but not overconfident,” head coach Jesse Marsch said. “Just staying on the edge. Even when you still have some nerves, to still have urgency, to still have hunger, that’s always important. Getting that balance right it’s never easy.
“Our mindset is that we have confidence, but we’re in for a very different challenge, very much so much a bigger challenge. I don’t think we’re naive to think that just because we played well against Chicago that this game is going to be easy. It’s going to be hard on the highest levels.”
Red Bulls left back Kemar Lawrence likes where his teammates are at, at the moment.
“We’re at the right level of confidence. We’re not overconfident,” he said. “I think we really want to win. … Every guy is on top of the details. Every guy is on top of each other. It’s not over confidence. It’s like a calm confidence that’s just flowing through the group.”