The New York Red Bulls entered their final home game of the season with a chance to clinch the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference, and to keep pace with FC Dallas for the Supporter's Shield. 7 seconds was all it took for the Red Bulls to take command of the game as Mike Grella ran onto an errant back pass and put one pass Andrew Blake to opening up scoring. Kemar Lawrence capped off a 4 goal first half with his first goal of the season. Philly pulled one back in the second half, but that was all they could muster as the Red Bulls reached 57 points and the #1 seed in the East.
NY - Mike Grella (8) 1'
NY - Bradley Wright-Phillips (16) (Sacha Kljestan, Damien Perrinelle) 4'
NY - Mike Grella (9) (Dax McCarty) 17'
NY - Kemar Lawrence (1) (Lloyd Sam, Dax McCarty) 44'
PHI - Sebastien Le Toux (7) (Tranquillo Barnetta) 55'
PHI - Steven Vitoria (caution, unsporting behavior) 41'
New York Red Bulls:
Luis Robles; Kemar Lawrence, Damien Perrinelle, Ronald Zubar, Sal Zizzo, Dax McCarty © (Sean Davis, 65'), Felipe, Mike Grella, Sacha Kljestan (Connor Lade, 82'), Lloyd Sam (Gonzalo Veron, 71'), Bradley Wright-Phillips
TOTAL SHOTS: 13; SHOTS ON GOAL: 5; FOULS: 10; OFFSIDE: 2; CORNER KICKS: 8; SAVES: 5.
Andre Blake;Fabinho, Richie Marquez, Steven Vitoria (Fernando Aristeguieta, 46'), Andrew Wenger, Vincent Nogueira, Michael Lahoud, Chaco Maidana (Ethan White, 46'), Tranquillo Barnetta ©, Sebastien LeToux, CJ. Sapong (Eric Ayuk, 77')
TOTAL SHOTS: 9; SHOTS ON GOAL: 6; FOULS: 13; OFFSIDE: 0; CORNER KICKS: 5; SAVES: 1.
New York Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch
On the quick start to today's match:
Yeah, I'll take that start most games. We weren't happy with the performance (in Toronto). There was no sense of panic in our team, that's just not that way we want to play and the guys knew that. At home, this is a tough place to come play for opposing teams. I think our team really enjoys playing in front of this crowd. It was a great first half and a good win.
On now acknowledging the pressures of the Shield and Cup:
Yeah, it's where we're at. I think we've put ourselves in a position to go after things. We're going to have to earn it. We're going to have to go to Chicago, a place we've never won. Dallas keeps pushing their team. Respect the way they've played and the job their coaches have done. They've got a tough game against San Jose but we play first so we're going to have to go out on the field and from the first minute, just like we did tonight, go after the game and know that three points gets us the Shield and sets us up for the Cup.
On how winning the Eastern Conference validates the club's plans:
It's a nice moment for our club. It's a nice moment for the players and the work that they've put in. I'm happy for the organization and the positive vibe that has gone on here from day one that I've been here. Everyone around here has continued to show belief in me and belief in the way that we operate in as a team and belief in our players. It means that we've all been put in a situation to succeed. It's a nice time to reflect, yeah, but we're hungry. We're not satisfied, we want more. We want to honor everything that's been done by making the strongest push we possibly can and to have the exact mentality we know we need to have in order to really give us a chance to win a championship. That's where we're at right now. Big week to get ready for Chicago and then, obviously, after that.
On being successful without having a high payroll:
I don't like when people talk about our payroll being so low because I think it belittles our players. I think we have a really talented team. Yeah, we don't have the big superstars that you spend $5 million a pop on a guy, but we have a really balanced team, a really talented team, and I think I'd take my group of players over any group of players in this league and I truly mean that. This is our approach, this is who we are, and it's about every guy giving everything he has to the group. We're proud of what we've become and proud of the identity that we're building. I'm being honest when I say that year one is the start of the project. We're where we want to be right now but it's about building for years to come.
On the belief in Mike Grella and his development this season:
Mike's been great from day one. From day one we were like, 'this guy's got something.' He really wanted to establish himself because he knew this is his home and he probably felt that this is his last chance. He's taken this chance and run with it. We've shown belief in him but we've also been hard on him on certain days, too, and we challenge him to do more and be more. Mike has shown up every day, doesn't take a day off, and works as hard as anybody we have. His good days you just see he's so clever and tricky, good around the goal, and the work rate he puts in. He fits the way we want to play. He can run all day. We've been proud of him for the year that he's put in.
On the way the fans impact the game and the team:
You go back to Mike Petke. He's been such an influential figure at this club. I know there was a lot of passion with who Mike is and how he's from the area and everything that he brought to the club. It wasn't easy following in his footsteps. I just tried to step in here and do the job I thought needed to be done. I asked the fans to give the team a chance and I felt that if the team went on the field and played the way that I know they could then the fans would eventually start to like the team. I think there's a true appreciation for the way we play and what we do. I think as the year has gone on, the fans anticipate what's happening on the field because they know what we're trying to achieve tactically. They know our players. It's been fun to see the sort of 'crescendo' of how the ebb and flow of the cheering and the excitement inside of the stadium goes based on what we're trying to do on the field. We have smart players and a smart fan base.
On the importance of getting a response after the Toronto loss:
We wanted to have urgency from the start today and we knew in some ways it was a race to the first goal. The race started out great. This is who we try to be - a team that, literally from the first second, just goes after the other team and makes them uncomfortable. We were rewarded for it tonight more so than ever before. The good thing about having the Supporters' Shield before the playoffs is for teams like us that know there's a reason to keep the foot on the pedal. We know we have to go into Chicago with the highest level of intensity and commitment than we've had all year. If we do that then we feel that we not only can win the Shield but that we can be successful in the playoffs.
On the decision to play Sal Zizzo at right back over Connor Lade:
It was not an easy decision. I think Connor has had a really good season for us but it's just trying to balance where we are with different guys and what we think our needs are for our team tactically and what the different qualities the players bring. There's plenty of potential in the playoffs to play different match-ups because we've had so many guys contribute at big levels. I've told Connor all along that his season's not over. He's going to be called on and we're still going to need him down the stretch. Connor's such a great pro and a great man that I know we can count on him no matter what.
New York Red Bulls Midfielder Mike Grella
On what happened during the fastest goal in MLS history:
We come out pressing all the time, but it's usually just for a little bit of pressure, but this time we actually picked one off quite early. I think it was an error or a bad pass back, and their center back hesitated, and it was just me and him back there, and I just took him to the left, and finished near post.
On capping off the season with this win:
I think I've had a good season, but in my eyes, and in my head, all my thoughts are looking forward. In truth, I'm just really looking forward to accomplishing something with this team. It's been such a fantastic group, we have this opportunity and we have to take it now because in football it's crazy. Things change so quickly so now we're just looking forward to the next games and hopefully winning the Supporters' Shield and the [MLS] Cup.
On Jesse Marsch's energy as a coach:
I think that's one of the things he does best-rallying his troops, and I think you can see that. Everybody wants to play for him, everyone wants to play, there's a lot of energy in the group. You guys get a taste of what he's really like.
On coming out strong against Philadelphia:
What Jesse said was come out like we're a goal down, and I think we always come out quite good, but we really came out well today and a goal in the first ten seconds really changes everything. It was a different kind of game against them and they become very difficult if you can't score right away so credit to us for getting the goal right away.
On rebounding after the loss to Toronto:
I think we weren't happy with our performance against Toronto, and I think maybe some of us won't be happy with our performance in the second half, but we know we're better than that. We know we should have got a least took a point [against Toronto] if we held on in that game. We know we missed a few chances, myself included...so we know we just needed to have a look at ourselves and say 'let's get back on track.'
New York Red Bulls Midfielder Dax McCarty
On bouncing back from the Toronto game:
Yes. Yeah, it's a great start. I mean we talked about having some urgency, playing with a little urgency - a little playoff urgency. Philly always gives us a tough game, for whatever reason. I think we always dominate the game but we can never figure them out. They always sit deep and make it tough on us and, you know, I think we came out with a great mentality and our finishing was fantastic from literally the opening seconds. You know, Mike [Grella] and our attackers were really aggressive in the first half and it really paid dividends. So, great first half. Terrible second half, but when you clinch the East and play that well in the first half, I guess we're allowed to have a mulligan. But the second half's not good enough, we have to make sure that doesn't happen again.
On how they bounced back:
I think we've always bounced back, after every bad performance we've had we always bounce back and responded in a good way. Obviously we had that stretch in the summer when we lost four games in a row, but I think that was an anomaly and that wasn't indicative of who we are as a team, so we knew we would bounce back. I told the guys, I was happy Dallas won, it put more pressure on us and I think this team steps up when the pressure's on the most. And I told the guys before the game, I said, 'listen, good teams, good players, they want to step up in the spotlight. They want to be involved in high-pressure games and high-pressure situations because that's when you really see what character comes out.' And I thought the response in the first half was unbelievable So we didn't let them breathe right from the start, we did exactly what we wanted to do. You can have performances like the one in Toronto, it just happens sometimes. I mean, Toronto wanted to make the game ugly, and we played into that. So now, when we come and play at home, we know it's going to be a much better game, we know that we're going to be able to do the things that we want to do with the ball, and look our fans give us confidence. Obviously, one of the best halves of the season from us.
On going up 2-0 early:
Certainly, you'd rather be up 2-0 than tied 0-0, but I do think that it changes things a little bit. You want to make sure that you don't lose that hunger to score goals. I mean, Jesse says it well: after we score the first goal, we just need to focus on scoring the second goal. After we score the second goal, we need to focus on scoring a third goal. We just need to have the frames in the game where we don't take our foot off the gas, and I think in the first half we were really, really good. They had about ten minutes there where they got back into the game, but we defended really well and then we closed out the half really positively. In the second half, totally different team on the field. I think we were a little complacent. We knew the game was over, but that doesn't mean we stop playing. I mean, if we have a performance like we had in the second half in the playoffs, it's going to kill us. So a little bit naïve from us, a little bit lazy. I'm just happy that we won, let's not be too Theirry [Henry] here. But I certainly think that we need to learn from that second half and get better because we know that we can be a great team, we know that we can go far in the playoffs, but we need to put in full 90-minute performances like that first half.
New York Red Bulls Forward Bradley Wright-Phillips
On succeeding without big names:
I think the ownership really challenged every single player, young and old, every player on the squad, they've challenged us to take ownership of this team and be leaders and I think that's one thing that has made us a little bit better.
On Mike Grella's early goal:
It was great. It takes the weight off everyone's shoulders and we really needed a good start. I didn't expect it to be that good, but it was brilliant and after that we were just on fire...I don't think I've ever been involved in a game with a goal that fast before, brilliant.
On responding from the loss:
I think [so far this season] we have had a good bounce-back ability. When we lose it hurts us, and we take pride in our performances. I think you see that in the game. Every time after we lose, we come out firing. Mike Grella showed that in the first seven seconds. That's how we set out to play today and that worked in the first half especially.
On getting a satisfying win against Philadelphia:
They came here and they knocked us out of the open cup and a couple of times I felt that we had the better of them, but didn't take our chances, or they just grinded it out, but today wasn't the case.
New York Red Bulls Defender Kemar Lawrence
About becoming a part of the team after joining this year:
Everything will take a bit of time. It's a process. I just kind of knew what I wanted, and the coaching staff, my teammates, Dane [Richards] was here, everyone just kind of welcomed me, showed me how to do it. I'm a humble person, I like to listen and I like to be taught stuff, so the process wasn't hard, it's just when it gets to the cold part of the year that I'm kind of uncomfortable. But it's really been a great season and the team has been great. Everyone has been pushing and it's the right time of the year, best time of the year right now to just push for the something and just try to get the Cup and try to get the Shield.
On what he said to Andre Blake after he scored:
Just told him, 'just keep going and keep your head up.' That's all I said to him. And he just said, 'alright, bro.'
On the year he's had, from facing Messi to scoring his first goal:
I know it's reality. I continue praying, I continue asking God to bring out the best in me and to bring me to a new level each and every day, and I think he's continued to make me a better man and a better person and a better player. So I know it's reality and each and every day I still want more, I still see myself doing better things and playing better football. So it's just about developing and being better each and every day and with the coaches here and my teammates, I think that process won't stop.
On whether he'll be called up to Jamaica for World Cup qualifying:
It's not rumblings yet. I'm definitely going to get called in, but we spoke and they know what I'm about and what I'm thinking right now, and so I think they're trying to manage me in the right way and hopefully when the game comes up it's when we have a break here so it's going to be easy for me to go. But I told them, right now we're in the playoffs and I have to be really focused, my team needs me. And I know they need me there but that's something [Ali and the Jamaican coach] figure out together and they have a good relationship so I leave it up to Ali and the guys in Jamaica to deal with that.
New York Red Bulls Goalkeeper Luis Robles
On coming strong against Philadelphia:
After the way things went down in Toronto, we wanted to focus on ourselves, and we knew if we could come out with the same sort of mentality that we have in previous home games, it didn't matter who we were going to play, we would do well....looking back to have a goal that early was incredible, but to have two in the first five minutes, that puts it away.
On the first goal:
I couldn't believe it happened that easily. One, for them to turn it over so easily and then not to react, and then even when he hit it, I couldn't tell if it went in or not because it was kind of a strange bounce, but to have that sort of start for any team, I think knowing you have to go up against us down a goal seven seconds into the game, is going to be a difficult task.
On staying hungry for the rest of the season:
It is important that we stay hungry, that we have an instinctual desire to go forward, get goals, defend, and nonetheless, not only win the shield, but advance towards the cup. I think the word I like to use is resolve. There's been several times this season where we may have not played well...but you look at the resolve of this team, the mental fortitude, and we know that when our quality comes out and we have that mental toughness, we're going to be very difficult.