Bradley Wright-Phillips: “The performances have got to be good now.” (Photo courtesy of the MLS)
CLEARWATER, Fla. — With two weeks of training under their belt, the Red Bulls have a unique opportunity prior to their CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16 series against Olimpia.
They will have more than two weeks to prepare for the first leg against the Honduran side in San Jose, Costa Rica Feb. 22.
“Now we’ve got to start thinking about Olimpia,” striker Bradley Wright-Phillips said after the Red Bulls’ 4-3 scrimmage victory over the Philadelphia Union Saturday. “These games we’re playing we’re going to get more minutes and we’ve got to start winning the games and looking like us.
“The performances have got to be good now. The first two weeks are done and now the performances have got to be good.”
The second leg is scheduled for Red Bull Arena March 1.
Midfielder Tyler Adams, who spent a good part of January at U.S. national team camp in Carson, Calif., felt the team needed to get “our fitness up and getting as sharp as possible because we have that game on the 22nd. … That’s going to be a big match for us and obviously our club because we really want to start to make runs in these championship games.”
The Red Bulls reached the CCL quarterfinals last year but were eliminated by the Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
The team returned to New Jersey Sunday for a two-day break before departing for Arizona for two weeks.
Due to his national team commitments, the 18-year-old Tyler had only five days with the Red Bulls but felt right at home and liked what he saw of the new acquisitions.
“A lot of guys with of energy that want to prove something, and I was in their shoes not too long ago,” Tyler said. “So, I feel for them.
“You have a lot of young guys that were with the USL team last year now trying to make the case that they deserve to be with the first team and are under contract. A lot of different young guys who have come in and got signed who are also trying to establish themselves. I’m just trying to play a role now using my experiences to help them.”
BWP liked what he has seen as well.
“The young guys are coming along,” he said. “Most of the young guys have been our best players in the first two weeks of camp. It’s good. They’re impressing me and impressing the older guys and coaches.”