Jesse Marsch: “We created enough moments in transition and advantages that if we were a little bit sharper we could have found a way to score more goals.” (Keith Furman/FrontRowSoccer)
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — After his team escaped Estadio Nacional with a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16, Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch is confident his team will overcome Olimpia in next week’s second leg.
“We feel good about that going back to Red Bull Arena,” he said.
As Thursday night’s game went on, the fitness of Olimpia, which has played nine league matches this year, showed over the Red Bulls. New York started preseason in late January.
The Red Bulls controlled the first half, but as the game went on Olimpia’s better fitness showed. The Honduran side has played nine league matches this year, whereas New York started its preseason in late January.
“We created enough moments in transition and advantages that if we were a little bit sharper we could have found a way to score more goals,” Marsch said. “It’s early in preseason for us, you know, early in the year. I know we’re not at our sharpest right now, or at our best. But certainly now looking forward to the leg back home. We’ll have control of the game. We always do at Red Bull Arena, and it will be important for us to capitalize on advantages that we have.”
Midfielder Daniel Royer, who tallied the Red Bulls’ lone goal in the 31st minute, was welcomed to playing in Central America. He felt Olimpia played “dirty.”
“It’s tough because they’re pretty savvy,” he said. “They’re playing dirty and we knew that, but it’s always different when you talk about it and then it actually happens. They’re definitely playing really dirty and I don’t want to look for excuses, but there’s also another guy who’s really questionable on that field who’s going to make some decisions. But now we know them better and that’s good. We’re looking forward to having them at Red Bull Arena.”
That would be in the second leg Thursday, March 1 at 8 p.m. ET.
“Every team that’s coming to Red Bull Arena will have a difficult time there,” Royer said. “We try to make it really difficult for them and if we play the same soccer as always in Red Bull Arena then I’m pretty confident and can’t wait for it and to get a good result.”
If the Red Bulls can earn that good result, they will move onto the quarterfinals. If not, they will focus on the opening of the Major League Soccer season. After taking off the opening week of the MLS season, the Red Bulls will host the Portland Timbers in their season opener Saturday, March 10.