A mid-week game on a hot and humid night at the end of August. The third game in seven days. A Supporters’ Shield race. A squad full of young players. Most people would say the situation wasn’t ideal for the New York Red Bulls. But this team continues to prove they are among the best at developing players in the league.
“This is who we are,” RBNY head coach Chris Armas said in a post game press conference. “We think we’re one of the leaders of this player development. We’re at the forefront. We believe in young guys, we push, and it’s about the philosophy, it’s about the mentality, the leadership from young guys, and we’re not afraid to give them chances.”
Escobar and Casseres show what RBNY is all about
With almost a fully rotated squad the Red Bulls defeated the Houston Dynamo 1-0 on Wednesday night. The win moved them back into first place. Players such as Fidel Escobar and Cristian Casseres had a golden opportunity to showcase themselves. For Escobar, it had been a long and frustrating wait.
“We expect him to be disappointed and upset that he’s not playing,” RBNY head coach Chris Armas said in post game press conference. “We talked about it before, that it’s just not easy, but that’s just what it is. This is the job, the business we’re in, and it’s part of it. How have we kept him going? We just show him that we care about him, we push him. The demands are high. We push and know that he’s going to get his opportunity, and we don’t just say it, we give it to him.”
Escobar earned a start Wednesday, and showed why he started for Panama at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The defender had a solid partnership with Parker all game, had 6 clearances and completed 66 percent of his passes. His positioning was great and he and Parker kept Houston quiet for most of the game.
“I think you could all see (Fidel) is a really intelligent soccer player,” RBNY head coach Chris Armas said in post game press conference. “You can see it with his passing, you can see it with the way he reads plays, he drops off, he head rolls, and he’s got some savviness to him. You don’t forget that he’s a relatively young guy, played in the World Cup against — got a lot of good reps against some really good players. But that’s his quality. His best days are game day. He’s a competitor, he’s a proud defender.”
Casseres who’s been look at by many of the RBNY faithful as Tyler Adams’ replacement should he depart at the end of the season, made his first MLS start in this game. While the 18 year old wasn’t as impactful on the offensive end, his defensive traits were on display. The midfielder had 3 interceptions, 3 clearances and 6 recoveries in the game, his counter pressing was impressive as well.
“ Playing with Tyler and Cristian together is like a cheat code,” RBNY captain Luis Robles said in a post game interview. “Honestly, these guys cover so much ground. They’re up the field, they’re back, counter-pressing, winning second balls. It was really a joy to see both of these guys play.”
Casseres put in a number of impressive performances in the USL for the New York Red Bulls II this season. Those performances impressed RBNY head coach Chris Armas as well.
“He looked like a young pro,” Armas said. “One of his best qualities is that he’s fearless. He’s fearless, he counter-presses, and he’s a philosophy player. We knew it would be interesting, enjoyable to watch him next to Tyler, two guys that are fearless, they’re going to go after it.”
With Adams and Casseres starting together for the first time, Armas wondered how it was going work out. They ended up controlling the midfield for long stretches of the game.
“That performance — of course you don’t know what it’s going to look like, but I think it’s exactly what we hoped for and expected from Christian. He plays beyond his years. He’s comfortable on the ball, plays against the ball, covers ground to the end of the game. If I said in the locker room, put your cleats back on, we’ve got another 30, he would do it.”
Two players lacking minutes playing so well shows the club is keeping everyone ready to go. Sure Escobar and Casseres had seen time for NYRB II this year, but when they were called upon in a crucial game in the Supporters’ Shield race they put in quality performances and earned the trust of their teammates in the process.
“I’ve been saying this all season; the front office has done a great job of creating depth through transactions, so that when we deal with rotation when the schedule and season get very congested, especially around summertime,” RBNY captain Luis Robles said in a post game interview. “When you look in training, there’s a number of guys that could fill in, be starters, and do well and we saw that today.”
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography