Today was the last training day for the Black-and-Red before they make their way to New York tomorrow to face the Red Bulls on Sunday. There is a history here, a heated one if you will as both teams have a healthy dislike for the other. That dislike doesn’t cloud their judgement as there is respect from both sides of what the opposing team is capable of. United is the visiting team in New York’s home opener, the game can be seen Sunday at 5pm Eastern on ESPN 2.
Earlier today, the Black-and-Red had a film session and a spent some time on the field as well. Coach Olsen, Steven Birnbaum, and Perry Kitchen shared their thoughts on facing their rival in New York this weekend.
Coach Olsen on getting off to a fast start
“We haven’t been the fastest starters in the last…10 years. Getting a result this weekend would be great for the guys and that can star to spiral. Whenever you get wins, the confidence and things like that can start to spiral forward. It can go the other way real quick.”
On the long break between games
“There’s two weeks, two teams have two weeks off, So it’s a little bit about who isn’t rusty, who can have the right start. The first 15, 20 minutes of this game is going to be very important.”
On facing their rivals, the Red Bulls
“They’re a good team. Their central midfield is very good, Sam’s a handful. Bradley Wright-Phillips is Bradley Wright-Phillips and he can put a lot of numbers up, so I’m looking forward to it.”
“Great to have an early match up against a rival team, I think the boys are looking forward to going up north.”
Steven Birnbaum discusses the difference between coming off the bench last year and being the full time starter this season
“Just having a little more confidence this year, it’s been a good preseason. Just been trying to carry it over this year, we had a good first game and hopefully we can keep this momentum going this weekend.”
Discusses how much his time with the US National team helped his development
I think it helped a lot, getting to play with all those great guys was amazing. It was a great experience for me and just learning from them, hopefully it translates into this year, so I’m excited.”
On facing Red Bulls
“They knocked us out of the playoffs last year, it’s in the back of our minds obviously. We’re thinking about that, but we’re focused on what we need to get done and we’re excited to go there and hopefully get the win.”
Difference from Red Bulls last postseason to their first game this year against Sporting Kansas City
“They’ve brought in a lot of new pieces to have a good team this year. I think they got a great midfield and great attacking players, Bradley Wright-Phillips. It’s just my job, the back’s job to keep aware of where he’s at, at all times.
On Kljestan’s impact in midfield
“He’s great, I think we heard a stat that he touched the ball the most out of any player in the first week. We know he’s going to be on the ball and it’s just recognizing how to deal with it.”
Perry Kitchen on getting revenge or avenging last year’s post season loss
“We’re definitely thinking about that, they knocked us out. They’re a very good team, it’s a rivalry. These games are typically pretty intense, it’s going to be a great matchup. We’re prepared for them, should be a good one.”
On whether it will be a challenge for United to keep their composure in what’s sure to be a hostile environment
“I think we’re used to that environment, that intense type of game.. We just have to stay calm and play our game, hopefully the rest takes care of itself.”