Chris Armas: “I owe a lot to this organization. I was here when we opened this building so it feels very comfortable. It’s hard to explain.” (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)
BRIDGEVIEW, ILL. — For the first time since he was named Red Bulls head coach last month, Chris Armas returned to the city where he forged his reputation Saturday night.
His present club defeated his old team, the Chicago Fire, 1-0.
Yet, Armas said it wasn’t a big deal.
“I don’t think about it,” Armas said after Bradley Wright-Phillips scored the lone goal of the match at Toyota Park. “Maybe I will at some point. It feels very familiar in this building and so many good memories here. I owe a lot to this organization. I was here when we opened this building so it feels very comfortable. It’s hard to explain.
“I feel so much more satisfied with three points and watching our team go after it the way we did and then again, find a way to win. I think good teams know how to do. I don’t have much feeling about beating the old club. I love this club, it’s in my heart so maybe that’s why I can’t really put it into words.”
Goalkeeper Luis Robles, who recorded the clean sheet, noted how many former members of the Fire organization are key personnel with the Red Bulls.
“It’s not just Chris, we have the Chicago Fire east coast coaching staff,” he said, adding the team has Tonny Sanneh as sporting director, C.J. Brown as an assistant coach and formerly Jesse Marsch as headache. “Basically half of your Ring of Fire up there.
“Every game is important. I think the reason why he wants to downplay it is because Chris is too humble to make it about him. At the end of the day it’s going to be about the team and the organization and for us to get three points against a team that’s going through some rough times but at the end of the day, when you look at their best 11 they are a tough team to play against. To get a full three points on the road at their place it’s a great result for us.”
Under Armas, the Red Bulls (15-6-2, 47 points) are 5-2 and moved within a point of idle Atlanta United (14-4-6, 48) in the Eastern Conference.
So, it has been a relatively smooth transition from Marsch to the former Adelphi University standout.
“It feels like forever ago,” Robles said. “I feel like Jesse left ages ago. Part of that has to do with how long Chris has been here since the very beginning.”
Armas was an assistant coach under Marsch, who left to be an assistant with RB Leipzig in Germany.
“Everyone has come to know Chris and he does a great job,” Robles said. “With that being said, what Jesse is doing and the opportunity he has is tremendous and the groundwork he has laid here, the foundation that Chris is able to build off of is also very, very important and can’t be overlooked. We are in a good way right now since Chris has been our coach, we have won five out of seven but we also known as we look ahead we have some very tough road matches, conference matches, so getting a full three points tonight was important for us.”