Chris Armas on his derby coaching experience last year: “It felt comfortable and gives me confidence now to step into this role and I’m ready for this.” (Photo courtesy of MLS)
By Michael Lewis
Chris Armas’ coaching resume might say he hasn’t directed a Major League Soccer team yet, but actually he has.
When former Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch was absent for the Lamar Hunt Open Cup, Armas, then an assistant, took over the coaching reins for a day against New York City FC in the Hudson River Derby.
Actually, he ran the show for a week while Marsch was in Europe taking his coaching badge course.
Armas and the Red Bulls prevailed, 2-0, June 24, 2017, although Marsch got credit for the win.
So, Armas running the show last year is perfect because his first game as fulltime head coach of the team is NYCFC at Yankee Stadium in the derby.
“In the Open Cup last year, it gives you a little glimpse of stepping into that role for the week as what it means to be in charge,” Armas said during his introductory press conference with the media at the Red Bull Training Facility in Hanover, N.J. “Again, I don’t overthink those days, doing my job, stepping in for Jesse, and we’re going to keep this thing going for those five days. So, I think it gave me a chance on the sideline to get a taste of that. Of course on the day it was about winning and advancing which we did. And yeah it felt comfortable and gives me confidence now to step into this role and I’m ready for this.”
Armas, a Brentwood, N.Y. native, took over for Marsch only two days prior to the third match of this year’s four-game series.
“For me there is no bitterness to it,” he said. “It’s only sweet. It’s a great team we’re playing against. It’s a derby match, it’s New York, it’s the Bronx, it’s two teams that are fighting for the standings right there. And there’s no better way. We are ready as a team. You can see it in the standings what the team is all about and again, Denis, the roster he has put together here, on all levels. The team is ready, I’m ready and I’ll tell you sometimes when things come quickly like this, perfect. Perfect that these games come quickly, and you get thrown right into it, so I’m excited and yeah perfect way to start.”
The Red Bulls lead the derby series across all competitions at 8-3-1.