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April 15, 2017

Jesse Marsch

Harrison, New Jersey

Red Bulls - 2, DC United - 0

Q. Another match where you started 4-2-2-2, switched to the 4-2-3-1. Why are you sticking with 4-2-2-2 at the beginning of matches if you seem to be switching throughout?
JESSE MARSCH: We started with a 4-2-3-1 tonight and the last game, so... Yeah, we played 4-2-3-1 tonight.

Q. Earlier this week you had some comments wanting Sacha to play a little bit more physically after the Orlando match. He looked a little bit like the vintage Sacha we saw who was an MVP finalist last year.
JESSE MARSCH: Yeah, I thought -- listen, we know when we play D.C. that physically we have to be up for the challenge, and that is often the starting point for what these games are. I thought that Sacha covered a lot of ground. He sprinted. He counterpressed a lot. He pressed a lot. And that, I thought, helped set the tone for the team. You know, I mean, even in the first half we weren't able to really develop as much in the attacking part of the field with the ball, but sometimes when you play against D.C. and in these big games, that's how you have to meet the standard of that for maybe 45 minutes, maybe 60 minutes, maybe 90 minutes until the same settles down.

So yeah, I thought that Sacha did a great job on that tonight, and the other guy who put such a great performance in tonight was Alex Muyl. He won like every duel, every aerial ball, every footrace, every tackle, and it set the tone for the whole team.

You know, and I think in general, most of the guys on the field won their battles tonight. They won their 1B1 matchups, and it helped us gain control of the game as the game matured.

Q. Two questions: One, how much did you need a win like this because you certainly looked like the Red Bulls of old, as you played in 2016, particularly in the second half? Part two, how scary was that collision in the first half between Alex and Bradley Wright-Phillips, and how concerned were you?
JESSE MARSCH: I'll start with that part. Yeah, I couldn't tell. It looked like they kind of ran into each other, but when I saw that they kind of both popped up, then it was okay. I didn't get a look on the TV yet, so maybe it looked worse on TV than what it looked live, so I couldn't really get a good sense of that.

Listen, I watched -- there's been so much talk about our team on the outside, like we're no good and we don't look like the team of old, and I said after the game last week that it looked like our team again, and it looked like now the personality and the belief and the commitment to play the way we want to play, that that looked like us, and so it's taken a little bit of time to come around that way, but I've been watching this team train, and the training sessions the last three weeks have been great. We've gotten fitter, we've gotten sharper, we've gotten better, we've gotten a lot of young guys opportunities, so I knew what I was looking at, and I knew we were going to have a really good performance tonight.

Now, that being said, it's early in the year. There's a lot of work to be done, and I'll say this: Look around the league; home teams win. Home teams win. So we've been on the road. We've had to fight through a lot of moments. We've had to deal with travel. Those aren't excuses, but for whatever reason in our league, and I can't figure it out, but it's so tilted, this year maybe more than in the past, that it's hard to win on the road. So we've got to win on the road right now, so we've gotten three points out of four games. It's not as much as we'd like, but it's still not terrible, and now when we've come back here, we haven't given up a goal in the league at home, so now it's our job to take care of business at home and make sure that we pick up points.

Q. This is, I guess, two sides of the same coin, but obviously you addressed what the players heard people saying and writing about them. Are you motivated by it, offended by it, irritated by it? And second, you know these games are always kind of physical, scrappy, that sort of type game; was that the perfect sort of game for you to have at this time?
JESSE MARSCH: Yeah, so first, I mean, listen, of course you read what people say. We all follow the league and the website and different things and different things that people write. You know, we were 1-6 last year and people were writing us off. This year there's been a lot of talk about different things, and listen, it's a new group a little bit. But again, I've seen things come together in a really good way, and we're always very measured about what results mean and what progress, real progress means on a day-to-day basis.

Second part, listen, you -- like I said at the start, if you're not up for what the challenge is playing against D.C., Benny always does a very good job of making sure his team is prepared and motivated and ready to fight and battle and claw, and we all know that that's hallmark of often what Benny does with his teams, and I admire it. I always -- I will always want a team that competes every night, too.

I think that that's a compliment to Ben. It's a compliment to what D.C. is, and we know that especially in these rivalry games, if we're not up for the challenge, we can just get cleaned up on the field. That's always the starting point for this match, and if we can do that well, then we feel like we can start to play the way we want to play and the game will settle down and we'll find our way.

Q. What did you think of the performance of your home-growns Tyler and Alex? Tyler was coming off of a bit of a rough game last week against Orlando, and bounced back and looked good, and how important is it to see home-growns play well in this rivalry match that's always tough?
JESSE MARSCH: I would disagree with Tyler not playing well last week. I thought he played well. He lost the duel on the set piece and then it winds up that people criticize him as having a bad game, but I thought he was good within the game, and everything from his passing to his duels to his head balls to little counterpressing moments, he was good last week, and he was good again this week.

You know, Tyler is showing some maturity and progress, which is really great to see, and now the other challenge is also now finding ways to give Sean Davis opportunities because we still believe so deeply in Sean.

You know, it's a balancing act that I've got to figure out how to deal with, but I think that both those guys are really going to continue to grow this year.

Q. (No microphone.)
JESSE MARSCH: Yeah, you know, we have a group of home-growns that we don't -- right now our home-growns aren't just guys that we have on the roster because they're home-growns. They're guys that we think have big futures, right, at this club and potentially, who knows, beyond. If I were to -- this is something else, but it was great to see our academy team do so well down in Dallas. You know, again, they won in shootouts today, and a lot of things get talked about, a lot of different clubs, and I'm not going to talk about anywhere else, but I think right now we are at the forefront of youth development. I don't think that anybody is building -- continuing to build an academy that way that we are and continuing to invest. I think that our USL team is a clear conduit between the academy, and our first team and our USL team and our first team and our academy, we all play similar. There's a similar style, and I think that we're showing as a first team that we invested in home grown players, we invest in young players, and we invest in youth development.

So I think that now when people start to talk about all the different clubs, I can't believe that Red Bulls are not considered one of the top if not the top because just by pure numbers and performance and Matt Miazga going to Chelsea and everything else, people need to start to pay attention that there's a real effort here to try to invest in young talent, and that it's going to continue to pay dividends for us down the road.

Q. Give us an update on Mike Grella and Gonzalo VarĂ³n.
JESSE MARSCH: Gonzalo VarĂ³n is going to be training on Monday, and we think Mike Grella can potentially be on the field by the end of the week. With everything else, we're growing into the season, and now that we know we're going to get healthier in the next week or so, I think it sets us up really to now really start to push and gain momentum within the season.

Q. I know you already touched on Alex, but last year he was always kind of labeled as the working man's guy and that's all he kind of brought to the equation. Have you had any conversations with him now in the last week we saw 1B1 and a few more opportunities. This week in the final third we saw him decisive, getting that ball. Have you had any conversations that now he can take the reins off a little bit?
JESSE MARSCH: Well, I think there's been some parts of the conversation that I wouldn't want to share, but I'll say this, but Alex, he knows that his next step is more quality, more goals, more assists, more chances, and I know he has it in him because I watched him in college, and he was a goal scorer and he was a final-play guy, and I'll be honest, I underestimated the ability he has to run and compete and push on that end.

I know it's only a matter of time, and sometimes with young attacking players they just need to get more into a comfort zone and more confident and then the final plays will start to come, and Alex I'd definitely put in that category, so I expect him to be much more productive from a goal scoring and assist perspective this year.

Q. Just to go back on what you were talking about with the academy and the players you're developing, who's safe on this MLS roster because it looks like the kids are improving every single match?
JESSE MARSCH: Yeah, and once we get our full complement of guys I'm going to have some tough decisions because there's certain guys that are -- it's what I see in training every week, so it's not just performance in games, it's what I see in training. I've got to figure out a way to kind of balance out giving opportunities and continuing to challenge different guys, and the good news is that can also give some of our more established and older players a little bit of rest at the right times.

You know, even I took both Sacha and Bradley out tonight because I think we have to find a way to manage them physically so that they can still produce over 10-, 11-month season. That's a good thing for us, very good thing for us.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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