(photo by Matt Kremkau)
New York Red Bulls captain Sean Davis spoke about new head coach Gerhard Struber and what life has been like in training leading up to Saturday's home opener against Sporting KC. The MLS veteran has seen the styles of two other head coaches and appears to be most excited about the future under the current steward.
"A lot of players are embracing the demands and challenges that he's putting on us," said Davis during a team press conference. "That's going to make us all better. He's pushing us outside of our comfort zone and that's ultimately what you want, as a player, to grow."
Struber has made no mystery as to the style he is looking to play. Expectations are that the high-pressing style that has defined New York will return but with more nuance that comes from years of experience within the European Red Bull system. This dynamism may take time to implement but, according to Davis, training sessions have been pushing the team in this direction.
Davis, now entering his second season as Red Bulls captain, understands that expectations will be high. The team underwhelmed in 2020, despite the difficulties with the pandemic. The team made an early exit from the MLS is Back tournament and failed to impress in the revamped regular season. They did continue their streak of qualifying for the MLS Cup Playoffs but failed against champions Columbus Crew SC.
"We have a good balance of veteran players but also a lot of fresh, young, talent," said Davis. "There is a lot of high hopes for the young guys and the energy and fearlessness that they bring to this group. The biggest thing for me right now which is trying to make sure that we're all on the same page. I think we're on the right track."
New York opens the season on Saturday at 8PM at a limited capacity Red Bull Arena against a Sporting KC side that is expecting to miss starting goalkeeper Tim Melia and striker Alan Pulido. While there are still questions about how the new players will integrate into the system, New York should be favored in this opening clash.