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New York Red Bulls enlist West Point for team-building trip

The New York Red Bulls went on a late-season team-building trip to West Point. (Photo courtesy New York Red Bulls)

HANOVER, N.J. — Apparently the same rules apply when taking a team-building trip to West Point as a bachelor party in Las Vegas.

What happens in West Point, stays in West Point.

The New York Red Bulls spent the early portion of the final week of the MLS regular season at the United States Military Academy, though players weren’t particularly interested in sharing details or what impact the overnight trip will have on their hopes of winning a first-ever MLS Cup.

“Hopefully we can show you in the playoffs, but it’s a secret,” Bradley Wright-Phillips said when the team returned to their training facility Wednesday afternoon. “It’s just good to get together and learn some things that can be helpful later on in the season.”

“Things that we feel are going to be very important for us to push forward and go throughout the playoffs and go on a deep run,” Derrick Etienne said cryptically when asked what the Red Bulls got out of the trip. “I wouldn’t want to tell you guys that.”

It wasn’t a top-secret mission, according to coach Chris Armas the team knew the location of their late-season trip, though they didn’t know the itinerary. Armas also said the timing of the trip shouldn’t be looked into too deeply.

“It could have been anytime in the last few months,” Armas said. “We’re always looking to do something outside of here, keep things fresh and we’re running out of time. With international break, with the schedule, earlier in the year there’s other conflicts, so just when you look at the schedule this made a lot of sense.”

The Red Bulls Commander-in-chief was a bit more open about details, though clearly some of the information remains confidential. The team met the Army men’s soccer team before they left to take on Boston University Wednesday night, spoke to “different generals and lieutenants,” according to Armas, as well as colonel John Burpo, the brother of Red Bulls assistant coach Preston Burpo and a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Life Sciences, who addressed the Red Bulls.

“He shared some different stories,” Armas said. “It was pretty casual, but powerful, great.”

Armas said when the team can be together for an extended period on the road — like going to a visiting city two days before a game — there’s usually a good energy level. That was the case again this week.

“We knew minimally the spirt and energy was going to be high,” Armas said. “And then, we’re at West Point where it’s so impressive, the people are so impressive, there’s no better example of leaders and leadership and accountability. The whole campus is just impressive.”

“Maybe it hits a nerve in different ways and maybe it makes a difference, who knows,” he added.

Wright-Phillips said being on the campus and meeting the cadets was a humbling experience.

“It’s an eye-opener to see how real men and real women live. We’re lucky, we just come and play football, but these guys live a completely different life and they do it for other people than themselves.

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