Jesse Marsch has stated that this New York Red Bulls team is the best in MLS history. There is, however, still a way to go for such a statement to be vindicated.
Thanks to a brilliant late-season surge and final-day miracle, the New York Red Bulls won the Supporters’ Shield with a record points total, breaking last season’s Toronto FC, the very team that engineered that miracle with a staggering 4-1 win over Atlanta United on the final day of the year.
It has been a remarkable season for the Red Bulls, one that has included a loss of their bright, young head coach, a mire of rumour and conjecture surrounding the future of their best player, and a latter-season run of form that paints this team as one of the best in MLS history.
Indeed, their former head coach, Jesse Marsch, who was headhunted by the Red Bulls consortium for whom he was working for, embarking on European endeavours with Red Bull Leipzig in early July.
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Speaking of his former team this week, prior to their Eastern Conference Championship against the team they squeezed out of the Supporters’ Shield, Marsch made the rather heady claim that the Red Bulls are the best team in MLS history:
"“They’re doing such a good job, Chris is taking it to the next step, and the whole team has taken their next step, in terms of taking bigger roles and understanding that it’s time to step up. It’s led to the team being the best in the history of the league. I’m very proud of those guys, I’m very proud of our club and the work that’s been done by so many.”"
Certainly, based purely on the number of points amassed across the season, Marsch is correct. This is the best team in MLS history. But they may still have a way to go to actually prove that statement.
The team largely considered the greatest in MLS history is last season’s iteration of Toronto FC. They were the previous holders of the single-season points record and played in a vibrant, vivacious manner that had rarely been seen in the league prior. The Red Bulls do not quite have that same infectious swagger, but the results — and the points — speak for themselves.
That said, what made Toronto such a great team was that they not only dominated the regular season, but they then put it all together in the postseason, winning the MLS Cup with a 2-0 win over the Seattle Sounders. Toronto played brilliantly for a full season, and then they backed it up by delivering in the biggest moment.
The Red Bulls are yet to do that. The Red Bulls are also famous for their inability to do just that. After all, this is a team that has never won the MLS Cup despite their dominance over the past decade. Astonishingly, New York have finished top of the East on five occasions over the past 10 years, winning the Supporters’ Shield on three occasions. They finished below sixth once, in 2009. And yet, they have never even appeared in an MLS Cup final during that time.
If the Red Bulls break the playoff hoodoo and do what Toronto did last season, then, yes, they may well be considered the greatest team in MLS history. But there is a long way to go for that to be the case.