Regardless of Sunday’s result, Bradley Carnell was still looking up. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
In a perfect world, the Red Bulls would not have only won the game in Bradley Carnell’s debut as interim coach, they would have won it in style.
But there is no such thing as a perfect world. For Carnell and the Red Bulls, it was a cruel world at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. Sunday night as the hosts wound up with their worst result of the MLS season, a 3-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union.
It was the second consecutive shutout at home in five days after D.C. United registered a 1-0 victory deep into stoppage time Wednesday.
“It wasn’t a fairy tale,” Carnell said. “We set our hopes up high. Obviously, when we start the way we did, expectations start growing, for sure, you know really positive. We were really going at it high energy exactly the way we wanted.”
And then Brendan Aaronson scores a picture of a goal to give Philly a 1-0 lead, which Carnell called “a worldly.”
He had only a couple of days to work on tactics and work on the player’s attitudes because Chris Armas’ firing shocked the team.
“You could feel what we’ve been trying to work on the last two days, trying to renew the guys energy and just create this little sense of a calm, controlled environment, keep the emotions intact,” Carnell said. “For 68 minutes .. it wasn’t mean to be today, but for 68 minutes, there was a sense of that, and I could feel that. The players, they played their guts out. It’s just unfortunate that the guys can’t reward themselves.”
Carnell praised the performance of midfielder Flo Valot, saying he “had an excellent game,” after Marc Rzatkowski suffered an injury in training Saturday.
The new coach will give his team Monday and Tuesday off to compress and get what has transpired in the past several days out of its system.
“It’s been an emotional roller coaster for sure,” he said. “You don’t lose a friend, but you lose a close working colleague and a friend for life that are formed. Unfortunately, we don’t work together anymore.”
Carnell meant Chris Armas, who was fired as head coach Friday along with assistant coach CJ Brown.
“These guys are really good people, and it hit a lot of people very hard.”
The best tonic for Carnell was training.
“I personally can switch off and just make sure I’m focusing on the training, which is kind of my outlet,” he said. “Then you go home and then there’s somber thoughts and there’s emotions and there’s feelings.”
But there’s a game next Saturday – at D.C. United.
“I’ll do whatever it takes to bounce back and get a team like the Red Bulls making sure we set high standards and hold people accountable to them, including myself.”