|photo by Matt Kremkau|
New York Red Bulls are in an unfamiliar position in 2020 as they prepare for the MLS season without worrying about splitting the squad for the Concacaf Champions League. Usually the team spends time in Arizona but are split early on as the first team attempts to conquer continental competition. That is not the case this year and head coach Chris Armas is looking forward to that time.
"We would love to be in Champions League," said Armas when speaking to the New York Red Bulls Radio Network. "It is a goal of ours. First and foremost there is a competition out there and we want to be in it. That's not ideal but what you gain from not being in it is that you can build a little more methodically."
New York is coming together with a new core following the departure of team leaders like Bradley Wright-Phillips and Luis Robles. On top of that they have parted ways with both starting wing-backs in Michael Amir Murillo and Kemar Lawrence. Champions League may have presented added pressure during a time when the team is still trying to define their identity heading into the season.
"Moving forward it always opens the door" said Armas about player departures. "It opens the door for other players. We're addressing that every day. We went ahead and drafted Patrick Seagrist, John Tolkin now in from our academy. It's really exciting to see young players getting opportunities."
Those players will have to bear the load starting in March as unproven youngsters will patrol a number of key positions on both the defense and offense. Still, Armas sees this team as one that is more together than it has ever been before. The current coach has spent time under current Red Bull Salzburg manager Jesse Marsch and knows just what kind of claim that is.
"This team is more together then I have ever seen it. The culture remains really strong. We are moving forward. I said the train is moving forward fast. We're moving forward with players that want to be here, players that are all in because for us this is the only way to be."
Red Bulls start the season on March 1st against FC Cincinnati at Red Bull Arena.