Jesse Marsch: 'Right decision' to rest Red Bulls stars for U.S. Open Cup final
New York Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch defended his decision to rest his regular starters on Sunday while looking ahead to the U.S. Open Cup final.
The Red Bulls saw out a goalless draw against the Philadelphia Union with Sacha Kljestan and Bradley Wright-Phillips only coming on as second-half substitutes.
But with his side preparing to travel to Sporting Kansas City for the cup final on Wednesday (9 p.m. ET; ESPN2), Marsch was not second-guessing his decision to start the likes of Gonzalo Veron, Derrick Etienne and Muhamed Keita against the Union.
"No, I think it's the right decision," Marsch said after the game. "Given everything, we want to win the trophy, right, and you don't have a lot of opportunities to play a final. Clearly around this club, very few."
The Red Bulls have never won the Open Cup, only reaching the final once in 2003, when they were still known as the MetroStars and lost 1-0 defeat to the Chicago Fire.
The club has never won the MLS Cup either, with only one appearance in the league final in 2008, though they claimed the Supporters' Shield for best regular-season MLS record in 2013 and 2015.
Marsch added: "So we are going to place precedence on the game on Wednesday all week, but I thought our focus from the guys who played and the guys who came off the bench, I think -- and I think even some of the calculations on who to play, I think a lot of right decisions, good performances, and again, I think a little bit unlucky.
"Because on another day, we score at least a goal and then the game opens up and we could have made it more. So a lot of positive performances, good mentality from the group, and now I think it puts us in good position for what Wednesday is going to mean."
The Red Bulls are in good shape to reach the playoffs regardless of Sunday's result, and Kljestan said he had no issue with being out of the starting lineup.
"To be honest there was no message from Jesse. I don't need him to hold my hand and tell me why I'm not starting this game -- the same for Bradley and some of the other guys," Kljestan said.
"We're all in this together, we all know how important Wednesday is for our team and our club. Without him saying anything it was obvious why we were resting tonight."
Meanwhile, Marsch confirmed on Monday that goalkeeper Ryan Meara would retain his starting spot for the cup final over Luis Robles.
"It was the type of decision I felt like I couldn't get it wrong because I have two such great goalkeepers but I also felt I couldn't get it right. I felt like whoever I was telling was going to be very disappointed -- it doesn't feel good," Marsch said. " ... He's going to take us through the final and to the trophy."
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