Chris Armas: “In all reality, I think what I’m focused most on is three points at home.” (Photo courtesy of MLS)
HARRISON, N.J. — The student takes on the teacher at Red Bull Arena Sunday night.
Chris Armas, who starred for Bob Bradley’s championship teams with the Chicago Fire will try to best his former coach as the Red Bulls boss. Bradley directs the first-year expansion team Los Angeles Football club.
Armas took over the Red Bulls coaching reins when former head coach Jesse Marsch left to become an assistant coach with RB Leipzig last month.
“Well, their entire staff has a special place with me and friendships and soccer relationships,” Armas said Friday. “We all go way back. And in all reality, I think what I’m focused most on is three points at home. We know that Bob and his staff are having an amazing season, they’re surprising some people, but not us over here. We know what they are capable of and it’s really no big surprise. It’s always special, I don’t get to see Bob, Ante Razov, I don’t get to see those guys enough in general, so it’ll always be good to battle with those guys on the day.”
Bradley directed the Fire from its Major League Soccer expansion season in 1998 through 2002 before moving to the MetroStars (now the Red Bulls). Armas was a mainstay at midfield for the 1998 MLS Cup champions and a pair of Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title sides during Bradley’s tenure.
Sunday’s 6 p.m. match will be a confrontation between a pair of third-place teams. The Red Bulls enter the weekend in third in the Eastern Conference at 13-6-2 and 41 points, while LAFC, a first-year expansion team, is 10-7-4 and 35 points.
So, this is a pretty big game for both sides.
In fact, the bigger the game for the Red Bulls, it seems the better the teams perform.
“It says a lot about our team, I’ll tell you that,” Armas said. “It does say a lot about our team that in all the years we keep building towards that. Come playoff time, Champions League, later stages, Open Cup. We’re growing that way. We’re understanding what the bigger games mean and what meeting those demands actually require.”
New York will look to continue its successful trend against Western Conference opponents. The Red Bulls are 7-1-0 against the West, outscoring their opponents, 20-7, and 15-3 at RBA.
The Red Bulls will try to get back on track after dropping a 3-2 decision to Columbus Crew SC at home last weekend.
“After a loss at home you always want to prove something and you always want to bounce back no matter what team will come to RBA,” midfielder Daniel Royer said. “This will be a big test on the day. As I said they have a compact team with really good individuals, but they also play really good as a team and as you can see the entire season they are really dangerous in their offense and they have a strong defense as well. It will be a big test as I said, but if we succeed and we bring our things to the pitch than I think we can be successful.”