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New York Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch defends tactical decisions in CCL ouster


HANOVER, N.J. — To Kaku or not to Kaku, that was the question.

By now, New York Red Bulls fans know the decision made in the 0-0 draw with Chivas de Guadalajara that knocked their team out of the Concacaf Champions League semifinals.

Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch had Kaku on the substitute’s bench for both legs and the club’s new No. 10 was only on the field for the final 32 minutes of the series.

It was certainly a matter of debate before, during and after the game that the young Argentine, who arrived in the preseason following a club-record transfer fee paid to Club Huracan.

If Kaku is deemed a difference-maker, as Red Bulls officials have said, isn’t this the stage for him to showcase that ability?

Marsch understands the Monday morning quarterbacking that goes on, especially when a team is eliminated from a competition.

“Believe me, I know what the dialogue is out there,” Marsch said. “Some of it makes me chuckle.”

His decision to not start Kaku, and Marc Rzatkowski, as well as his tactical approach against Chivas have been debated by fans and media alike, especially on social media.

On Thursday, after training, Marsch responded.

First, on sitting Kaku:

“Well, it’s mostly because he’s still integrating into the tactics,” Marsch said. “With what we do here, the tactics are very important, the understanding of roles, the ability to understand what each person’s role is on the day. That’s why it was 20-1 on shots. It’s not random. It’s because we totally smothered a really good team and made the game our game.”

Next, on the team’s direct attack in the two legs:

“Guess who plays the fewest amount of long balls in the league? New York Red Bulls. But when you play a team that is strict man-to-man, they’re waiting for you to play anything underneath, anything through the midfield and then jump on it and score. The only real chance they had in the whole series was their goal, which we tried to play underneath and they stepped in front and punished us.

“You have to understand you have to play the way you want to play and you have to adjust what you do on the day to make sure you’re addressing what the other team is trying to accomplish. For the most part we did that in a really high level and were just a little unlucky not being able to get the goal.

“The way that Chivas plays is very interesting and they’re really well coached, they’re the most disciplined team I’ve ever seen in terms of now making sure they lock into guys and take care of each matchup. I thought overall we dealt with it really well.”

And finally, on not including Rzatkowski:

“With Marc, first of all, in Guadalajara, he had an injury so we couldn’t play him there. We were thinking about him, thinking about Kaku, how to use those guys. Then the game was very combative, the game was very fast. When we were looking for ways to push the game and find ways to still exploit them in moments when we were able to turn them over we made the decisions we made.”




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