The following are excerpts from interviews with New York Red Bulls players from the team’s 2019 Media Day.
On coming back from injury
No, it felt really good. I’m the the type of guy that once I’m off injury that I push myself. I don’t worry about how the knee is feeling. As the long as the doctor is gives me the go ahead, in my mind its just clear. You’re going to feel a bit of pain sometimes. For the most part, everything is clear and everything felt well and I was happy to be on the field. I was just trying back to same thing as always but doing some things different.
On new guys and coming in and out look
There’s still new guys coming in, there younger guys, and guys from different teams. So there’s always that meet and greet process. To have the same same core is pretty good, now we can work on new things, things we feel like that are going to work, and we don’t have to spend time teaching the old things. So now we can go right into the details, what’s going to make us successful? What’s going to make us win the MLS Cup?
We just have to use our past experience, to get over that hump. For right now though it’s about the details, about getting the smallest movements right. Things like passes we used to miss out on. We’re just trying to push the bar. It’s good thing we have the CCL because it doesn’t only help us get fit, it also makes us sharp going into the regular season.
On if injury affected mentality.
Any player that plays at their peak and the teams peak and they get injured it’s rough. I felt somewhat heart broken, but I had to bring in positivity to the locker room and training and remind the guys that it is a team sport. You’re going to have 1 or 2 games were we have players out and we get by without them. I had to keep it positive and continue to motivate the guys and try to get over that hump, unfortunately we didn’t get over it. We still did end the year with a trophy, so that’s always a positive sign. We didn’t complete the year with nothing, the best team in the league, the most win, and almost got the best defensive team as well
On how he feels coming back from injury
Feeling really good, I feel happy to be on the field again. I don’t think I quite feel like myself yet, maybe I need another march of progression. I think I need to keep practicing and playing to able find my rhythm but it felt good to be out there with the guys.
On the new USL group
The group is looking really well, that’s what I felt when I was in Arizona. They bonded really well, having fun playing, and meshing together. That’s what we saw in the games, a bunch of friends playing together, which is unusual because it’s a mix of draftees, USL players from last year, and academy kids. It’s good to see that it’s working really well, we look strong and felt strong on the field. It’s an exciting year for the USL team.
Goals for this season
First and foremost I want to be healthy. I want to be back 100% and feel like myself. Which I’m almost there, I don’t focus on my knee any more I’m feeling fine. I just to be a little more shaper, I’m fit but I need to be sharper. I want to be back where I left off last year, I was playing well and I was breaking into the team. So I kind of want to try to get this spot back on the right wing, but I know it’s a deep roster especially on the wing side this year. So it’s going to be good competition, and so it’s only going to make better.
On what he trying to improve on
I think the most important thing for me is mentality, complacency, and understanding that you can’t get comfortable. Knowing that, you even think about the league, it continues improve year on year and so you have to grow and you have to evolve and develop. For me that involves not only working hard in the season but also in the offseason. Taking time to fine tune my game in different areas, and ensure that I’m sharp in going into preseason. I actually trained a lot with ex-Red Bull player Dan Metzger and that’s been really helpful for me. Going into preseason it’s just a time for us to get together and become a cohesive group and hit the ground running going into the Champions league and the MLS season. That’s been really important for me personally and I’m just trying to do my job.
On being 8 turning to Defensive player for Pantoja
First of all, we understood it was going to be a physical game. We understood that based on our previous Champions League runs and experiences, on the road is not always easy. The field isn’t great. So, you have to be cautious. You want to maintain a shutout, and you have to be careful defensively. Then you also have to factor in that Marc [Rzatkowski] has a lot of great attacking tendancies and he’s very strong going forward, around the box. I try to give him that freedom allowing him to flourish. I also don’t mind doing the dirty work. Even in talking to Chris [Armas] during preseason, he’s looking for more out of the 6’s going forward. He’s really encouraging us to join in the attack. Hopefully that will lead to more goals and assists for me and Marc. I think that’s been an important topic for us this preseason.
2019 team prep vs 2018 team prep
I think the first thing I’ll point to is the depth that this group has. The runs that we had last year, the congestion of schedule allowed a lot of different players to step up and gain experience. Now we have another year under our belt where we are trying to make similar runs in all competitions. So we’re going to have to count on a lot of guys. We can with this group. You look at some of the performances the second team had in Arizona while we were away, they are very promising. We have guys like Tim Parker that have a year of Red Bull football under their belt. In general, the group feel very comfortable together. We feel confident and I’m excited to see what other guys can bring to the table when they do get their opportunities.
Is this the year?
Every year we try to put ourselves in the best position to succeed. For us, success is winning trophies. That’s the standards of being at a club like Red Bull. Personally for me, if we don’t winning a trophy it’s a failed season. We are playing in a number of different competitions. Of course we want to win MLS Cup, but we also want to win Open Cup and CCL. It’s going to be challenging but I think we have the group to do it.
Cristian Casseres Jr.
On joining preseason late and if it will be difficult to readjust to Red Bull
I feel good. Even though I came on late, I feel good. I was with the national team, so fitness wise I feel good. With my teammates, I know the system, I know the philosophy, so it’s just getting back into the swing of things.
Pressure to replace Tyler Adams in central midfield
I feel comfortable especially with the coaching staff behind me and my teammates always supporting me. I’m just going to play my game. The reason I’m here is because of the way that I played. Hopefully, during the upcoming season, I’ll be giving my best effort and hopefully get minutes to contribute on this winning team.
Goals for the season
My goal overall is just to come here every single day and do whatever it is I have to do and obviously to get more minutes whether here for Concacaf and especially during the MLS season.
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography