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November 29, 2018

Chris Armas

Harrison, New Jersey

NY Red Bulls - 1, Atlanta United - 0

Q. What did Atlanta do to prevent you from at least cracking the aggregate?
CHRIS ARMAS: Their structure 5-3-2, again, it wasn't a secret, when you play like that, yeah, it's just in the width of whatever it is, 44 yards, it's just tough for us to really attack the spaces that we're used to, the way we play, but we knew that, so coming in, we knew there would be space and we tried to open them up with different ways with width and we did at moments, whether it's in the wrong play or set pieces, yeah, there's a few chances to make some plays tonight and we were close on a bunch.

So you give them a lot of credit, over the course of the series, they limited our big chances and congrats to them. It's a fine line in these games, in these plays, so mostly I'm just proud of the guys, the way we competed in the series and on the year.

Q. When the group got together very early in preseason, the discussion among the group that this is the best version of yourselves that you had and that you can make a real run at the Cup, for it to come just short of reaching that, what's the raw emotion right now for you guys?
CHRIS ARMAS: In our sport, I don't think you harp on this too long. It's such a rigorous schedule. You're in it every day. You don't stop. When you lose, it's a screeching halt, you know, and in a few days maybe or in some time, you'll stop and look back and we'll feel good about the job being done and what the guys accomplished.

The emotion is, yeah, it hurts. We win the series, we host MLS Cup, and we got really close, once again, maybe the closest in terms of hosting that final would have been a treat.

Our guys stand tall in that locker room. They stood tall till the end of the game, the way they fought, stuck together. You know, more than four minutes of stoppage, like a standard four minutes, it's still surprising to me but maybe not. Yeah, it hurts. That's what the emotion is. Our season's over and in time, we'll feel good about the work that was done, that's for sure.

Q. What was your message to the team?
CHRIS ARMAS: There wasn't a whole lot of words to say. I'm not sure who would have that much to say but the message was how proud I was of the team, then all the years of playing, you lose most of the time. Just the way it is, right. Even the greatest of all time, you play for 20 years, maybe you win five, but that's what it is sometimes, and most of the time. Shared my experience that it always made me ask hard questions about myself and how can I do better and what can I do more and it always made me hungry to come back next year, that was the message.

Also, to feel good about what was done -- and now's not the time, because their head is down, but guys, keep your heads up. It was incredible, the way you guys won the Shield, no one thought you would do it. So to win five games at the end of the year and we couldn't slip up once, and we didn't, we won a major trophy, and thank them for the support and the effort that they give the coaching staff and the organization all the time. We ask a lot of the players, and I thank them for that.

Q. How do you look back on the season and how do you see fitting into this six-year period where you've won the Shield three times now but always come up short in the post-season?
CHRIS ARMAS: It just makes us hungrier. It's going to come. That's the mentality. There's not -- I will never be a person or a coach to think about, wow, we lost, we lost. For me, we've won a lot since we've been here. Major success. And with the club, the organization, Dennis, what they are building, the academy, it's incredible. Not talked about, but it's incredible, the work Jesse did for the year, not talked about. It's incredible. So we focus on all the good that we do and we get to work every day. We don't cut corners. We show up early and leave late and keep going for it. It's coming. It's coming. Can't wait to get started again. That's what it is.

We don't think too much about falling short. Some would say, you exceeded that. I don't know, like which way you want to look at it. Like we won the Supporter Shield. In the future, we're going to host one game at our place, right. In many ways, it's a disadvantage. You have to go on the road. You have to play in their building, where the other team typically gets good results, have to come home -- it's difficult. It is difficult, and our guys don't make excuses. We don't make excuses. We just keep plugging. We'll focus on the positive and we'll look for ways to get better.

Q. If this was Tyler Adams last day with the team, or possibly will be, what did you see in his development over the last two years?
CHRIS ARMAS: Tyler's growth, we haven't seen anything like this in this country. Christian and Tyler Adams, those are the two, you know, guys in our national team that show a fearlessness quality, big personalities, humbleness, work ethic, maturity courage -- going to start repeating myself -- courage, but keep going. When we saw Tyler, even the recent article, you can read it and almost have a tear in your eye of what a gift he is.

And we've seen him grow. We've seen him grow with his maturity, with how he can take over games, how he can lead, a 19-year-old, you know, leading a team in many ways. We've seen his performances with the national team, how he's a big presence in those games and a big energy, and where you put him on the field, put him up the field tonight, and things start happening. We've seen it on every level, his understanding, tactically in games, how to be more effective. So we've seen every box that you can check. Just it's growing rapidly.

And will he succeed in Europe? I think we know that answer. It's for sure, because he has the physical ability. He's got the mentality for Europe. He keeps improving, and, his personality and the courage that he has, the approach, every single day to get better and win, it's like I've never seen. I know certain players that play in Europe, and you see what he has, he's going to do great.

Q. When you look at this team and the way it's built with the balance and the roster, and then you look at the tactics which are so unique in this league, do you think it correlates to play off success, do you think there needs to be some tweaking come playoff time so this team can get over that hurdle of the past four years?
CHRIS ARMAS: I think we are who we are. I think it's actually perfect for the playoffs. Hasn't brought us that trophy yet, but if it would be questionable for the playoffs, would it be questionable for the last five games of the year, and if that's the case, and in the tightest games, would it hold up when it mattered most, against Atlanta recently, biggest game of the year -- I just think that it's difficult in the playoffs. Every play is magnified. Every mistake you make, and it's such a fine line.

So yeah, leg one, ends up costing us. We lost our aggressiveness, and we were not ourselves as much. You can say, actually, I think it's ideal for the playoffs to win.

We'll look hard at that and see how we can improve that, and all the time, be thinking about how to stick to who we are and a game plan. But I'm all-in on this, the philosophy. Let me tell you, it's in so many ways ideal.

Q. To follow up on that, the tactics have always been high-press, turn over the ball and score. Does that have to change in a playoff situation where it's two legs, you have to vary your approach, so that they can't take advantage of that and put you in a disadvantage that you have for the second leg?
CHRIS ARMAS: Yeah, our team understands how to press up high. Our team understands how to press out of a deeper block. We've done that all year. That's not nothing new. The question is, what do you do when teams just play direct. Let's just say, leg one, do you get caught in second balls or are you trying to be too cautious, is the question.

So you know, high pressing is really, really nice when teams play out of the back. Like Columbus really gave us some moments -- but even they abandoned their norm. Atlanta did, as well. You saw the percentages of game one, the 25 per cent long balls. It's hard to have a rhythm of our pressing, so it becomes one about counter pressing and compressing and controlling spaces.

So yeah, I'm not sure exactly more than that, but we'll always have to think about how we can be most effective and stick to who we are, whether we're up higher or even deeper, and even if you think about the first goal in leg one, it's across from -- we just didn't really address it outside the box and we didn't on the night, weren't as aggressive as we normally are.

Q. Ultimately for you, why do you think you lost this series?
CHRIS ARMAS: It comes down to making plays. Tonight, we win 1-0, right. We put out every fire that came our way. There's a few of those that could have went the other way, not a ton of those, but there's a few, and on the other side of the ball, we make one play and there's a few of those that we could do more of and if you look at, we lost the series in leg one, we didn't make enough plays on either end of the field, in the middle of the field. We didn't.

So pressing, not pressing, we have to maintain our aggressiveness no matter where we are on the field, and you now have to make plays. Because if we just look at the individual plays of the goals, in the three really good finishes -- but we could have prevented all three of those. Things are tight in the playoffs, and it's about making plays, and we give them credit because they did, and we had to make a few more of those on each end of the field. You don't have to overthink that, at all.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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