Jesse Marsch: “We had to get through a lot of different challenges in the year in terms of results, changing the formation, dealing with an Open Cup run.” (FrontRowSoccer.com Photo)
HARRISON, N.J. — Now, let’s see if we can get this straight.
The Red Bulls finished sixth in the Eastern Conference, securing the final playoff berth.
Their 14-12-8 record was the club’s worst since the 2014 season.
And they were eliminated from the Eastern Conference semifinals for the second year in a row as their 22-year MLS Cup drought continued.
Yet, head coach Jesse Marsch says that this was his most successful season in his three years with the club.
That’s what he said.
“We’ve learned a lot, we’ve grown a lot, and we have a lot to build upon to move forward,” Marsch told reporters during the team’s end of season media availability at Red Bull Arena Wednesday. “From a points perspective and everything else it may not look as successful but for me, this is our most successful season.”
This from a man who directed the Red Bulls to the Supporters Shield crown in 2015 and the Eastern Conference regular-season title last year.
The Red Bulls did reach the Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup final, losing at Sporting Kansas City.
Given the infusion of more younger players in the Starting XI, Marsch said that 2017 was his most challenging season.
“For me, this was probably the most challenging,” he said. “We had less established players, more new guys and young players in the system. We had to get through a lot of different challenges in the year in terms of results, changing the formation, dealing with an Open Cup run. In all those ways I think actually helped us grow the most.”
But not enough to move on in the playoffs.
“For me, this is a successful year, no question,” Marsch said. “A big piece of it is watching the growth from Day One. I’m an incredibly competitive person and it eats at you when you don’t get what you want. It’s also really important to have a broad perspective.
“Truly, winning and losing isn’t the whole story. I know I’m judged by wins and losses and I always will be judged, but that’s not how I teach or coach or live. I’m a firm believe that we will get there. I know it’s painful for our fans, for all of us. I underestimated how difficult it would be to get this thinking to where we want to be. We are going to get there. I have no doubt. I’m more encouraged now than I have ever been. It’s a success, no question from me.”