Chris Armas Speaks To The Media

Newly appointed Red Bull head coach Chris Armas spoke this afternoon to the media regarding his moving up from Red Bull Assistant Coach to the position as the team's Head Coach.

Armas, originally from the Bronx and later Brentwood, Long Island was a former All American at Adelphia University (1990-93), played for the Long Island Rough Riders (1994-95) was a member of the U.S. MNT (1998-2005 with 66 caps) and played in Major League Soccer with the LA Galaxy (1996-97) and the Chicago Fire (1998-2005).

Armas also played for the Puerto Rican national team (1993) having made five appearances. His college coaching duties took him back to Adelphi where he coached the university's women's team (2011-2014).

The defensive midfielder was an assistant coach for the Chicago Fire (2008) and served as an assistant coach for the New York Red Bulls (2015-2018).

Chris Armas introductory press conference
Red Bulls Training Facility | East Hanover, NJ
Friday, July 6, 2018

Denis Hamlett opening statement…
“It is my pleasure today to introduce Chris Armas as the Head Coach for the New York Red Bulls. I’ve known Chris for over 20 years. I had the pleasure to coach him in Chicago, be on my staff, one of my assistant coaches, got to work with him here as an assistant coach in New York, and now it is truly an honor to appoint him as the new head coach. When you think about Chris Armas there’s a couple things that come to mind. Flat out he’s a winner. He’s shown that his playing days in Chicago and he’s continued to do that. He’s a competitor. For me, one thing when you go back and watch when he played in the midfield and his ability to compete at the highest level, it’s an amazing trait. His ability to portray that to our guys is going to be important. His understanding of our tactics, our philosophy, our commitment to it. We are not going to change the way we play and that’s important for the coach that is on board to understand that. More importantly I think when you look at the body of work that he has, I think it makes a perfect sense for me that he is going to be our leader moving forward. So congratulations and welcome. But before that, I just want to take a quick moment just to thank Jesse Marsch. I’ve known Jesse for a long time. He played a key role here with us in his three and a half years in terms of our club identity and also our playing style. I want to wish him, Kim, and his kids Emerson, Lennon and Maddux all the best in their next journey.”

Chris Armas opening statement…
“Thank you. Thank you very much. Look I’ll say a few things. I’m so excited. I’m a New Yorker through and through. This is the place where I grew up. Playing soccer since yay big. But 20 something years now in Major League Soccer. I’m excited to get going. As a New Yorker born in the Bronx, my family is from the Bronx, that’s where my family is at. Seeing this club from the very beginning. I’m really excited to get going. Before the work, it’s a lot of work to do of course. I’m just grateful. There’s a few individuals. Marc de Grandpre, Denis, yourself you know it would be an honor to work with you on a different level now. Denis and Marc are the leaders of the organization and trusting me to take this thing forward, again, it’s an honor. And then of course as Denis alluded to, Jesse. It’s hard even in a few minutes to show the gratitude and thanks in what Jesse has meant to me and the club and I think people will understand that. But from a soccer perspective, incredible, the tactics, what he’s done with the team is second to none and it’s remarkable. The club and the academy, through the USL, the culture here, fantastic. But even on a personal level, the time me and Jesse have spent, more than people will understand. The work that he puts in, the leadership style, and of course again the friendship that will last forever. So to Jesse Marsch, can’t say enough about Jess, but we’ll miss him, and of course and for me, it has made the process here in the last few days bittersweet because it’s hard to be so excited for what’s ahead without having to miss already Jesse. But I’m excited to get going. No better way to start in a few days than a derby match with New York City.”

On taking over as head coach before the game versus NYCFC:
Chris Armas: “For me there is no bitterness to it. It’s only sweet. It’s a great team we’re playing against. It’s a derby match, it’s New York, it’s the Bronx, it’s two teams that are fighting for the standings right there. And there’s no better way. We are ready as a team. You can see it in the standings what the team is all about and again, Denis, the roster he has put together here, on all levels. The team is ready, I’m ready and I’ll tell you sometimes when things come quickly like this, perfect. Perfect that these games come quickly and you get thrown right into it, so I’m excited and yeah perfect way to start.”

On change mid-season...
Denis Hamlett: “I think it’s important in terms of when we kind of identify players we want to make sure that they fit into our system and part of the process from the academy all the way up to our second and first team is to also educate the coaches to understand how we play, so prepare them for their next step because you never know in life when that opportunity is going to come. So, in my position I want to make sure now that you plan the right way so if something like this happens then you’re ready. You don’t have to look outside, you can look inside to make sure now you have someone in place. Like I said, the most important part is having someone who understands how we play and how we do things because that’s not going to change and I think that’s key. So that made the decision so much easier.”

On change mid-season
CA: “I’ve been around for Jesse’s tenure, so I understand more than ever, the philosophy, the tactics, the way we play, the personnel, the depth, USL, academy. I’ve invested myself completely in this club. Probably most of all that would help in a transition here, and I can see it over two days, is respect that I’ve given, that I’ve gotten from the guys, and I can feel that. There’s real support from the players. At the end of it, that’s what it’s about. The players in our circle, you know, how we’re going to push forward. I think there’s a built in trust and relationships are all there and established. So it’s to build on that, just with a different voice. I’m excited and ready for this leadership role and to push this group.”

On becoming a head coach…
CA: “I’ve been preparing, it sounds cliché, my whole life for this moment. The dream was to be a pro soccer player. When I was in college my mom wanted to know what to study. I said ‘mom, I want to be a pro.’ ‘Well Chris, there’s no pro league.’ ‘I’m just telling you, you asked a question, that’s what I want to do.’ And sure enough the timing was right. It worked out. Things have worked out for me that way. I put myself in spots for that to happen. It’s always been through hard work and relentless to the goal and the next step was then of course, you realize you can’t play anymore. You can’t play forever. I’m a teacher, I’m a coach, and I was doing a lot of that as a player. I was a captain of my team the last so many years, and I’ve been around some really good leaders. [Denis Hamlet] is one of them. Dave Sarachan, Bruce Arena, the national team level, Bob Bradley, Juan Carlos Osorio, Alfonso Mondelo, Bob Montgomery, Manny Schellscheidt. I’ve just been so fortunate to be around these gentlemen and I’m always watching and learning and listening and picking up as much as I can. So I have been preparing, but of course now in a different role. By the way, Jesse Marsch. Four years, like we spent too much time together. On the phone, on the trips, what a time we’ve spent together. He epitomizes leadership. So, I’ve been taking it in, learning along the way, as a player, again, and it’s words for me. I’ve lead teams to trophies, I’ve been part of winning in a leadership role. So, you got to start somewhere and at this level as a head coach and it was going to happen eventually. I took the job four years ago not to be an assistant coach forever. It was coming. And now it’s just a dream come true to be right here. Again, I can’t wait for this chance and the leadership of this team. I’m ready for it guys.”

On Jesse’s departing words to Chris…
CA: “Like Jesse would, he only gave the biggest hug, biggest support. We were both emotional about the whole things. It’s an incredible moment for each of us. It’s hard for me to be excited for my own thing because I’m excited for him, and how’s he feeling. I mean it’s like my brother. But he only wished the greatest of support and told me that I’d be his biggest fan. He can’t wait to see me on the sideline. And ‘Chris, you’re ready.’ And of course he stands in front of the team and tells them ‘Chris is ready, support Chris. You guys got this, you’re so lucky.’ So only support from Jesse.”

On last year’s Open Cup match against NYCFC
CA: “In the Open Cup last year, it gives you a little glimpse of stepping into that role for the week as what it means to be in charge. Again, I don’t overthink those days, doing my job, stepping in for Jesse, and we’re going to keep this thing going for those five days. So, I think it gave me a chance on the sideline to get a taste of that, of course on the day it was about winning and advancing which we did, and yeah it felt comfortable and gives me confidence now to step into this role and I’m ready for this.”

On Chris’ leadership skills…
DH: “There are many. He just had an uncanny ability to lead by example. I think when you watch him play I always go back to the game against New England when he scores the winning goal and takes his gloves off and throws it in the air as he’s running back celebrating. And just the joy that he had. But he just brought it everyday. In training sessions, on the field, he just led by example. You could see his ability to sort of connect with people and bring them on board and get them to sort of push themselves to the next level. I think you start to see signs of, when you’re the captain you see signs that these are qualities you’re going to have to become a good coach. From day one he had it. He had it when he played with the national team, he had it when he played with Chicago, so one of my first moves I did was hire him as one of my assistant coaches. He stayed for one year, then he had to come back to New York, so I figure if I get a chance to hire him again, it would be here in New York, so that day has come, it’s almost 20 years ago.”

On what advice he has given Chris…
DH: “Life’s about opportunities. I told him, for me, it took over 10 years to get to head coach of Chicago. I learned under Bob, under Dave, under Juan Carlos, and finally my opportunity came with it and I said when that moment comes, run with it and you do the best that you can. And I think he’s prepared himself for that moment, so I know that he will do fine and that he’s going to run with it and he’s not going to let it go.”

On the workload this week…
CA: “In terms of time, we’re always working, but it’s a big shift in what I’m thinking about. And the challenge is a few hours you’re home with the kids and the wife just to shut it off for a little bit. I think my whole family will understand that in the first few days here as things have come quickly just to wrap my mind around what’s needed and then to just do whatever you have to do to do what’s needed. I’m a worker, the core of me, that’s how my family was, my dad always had a saying that you have to earn it. He always said it. He would take the soccer ball in the backyard. He’s a guy that grew up playing baseball in the Bronx and when his heel hit the ball the other way he’d say you have to earn it and I’d chase him and he’d hold me off and I wouldn’t stop. He was a guy that worked many jobs and had to walk to work a mile and had holes in his shoes at one point in his life, but he worked and he taught us to work. So for me to have to put in some more hours to think about the staff and talking to the staff and talking to the players and what am I going to say and tactics, and New York City, and film, and thinking about certain players, and the starting lineup, and what do we do with the other guys, and time of the meal, there’s tons of things. But again, I’ve been doing this stuff in my mind for a few years as I’ve watched closely and paid attention. It feels like it’s comfortable because I feel like I’ve been doing this all along.”

On his relationship with Chris…
DH: “I’m there if he wants to call me. We’ve got a good relationship. It goes back 20 years and it’s the foundation of a mutual respect for each other. That’s the core of it and he knows I’m his biggest supporter, I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that he succeeds because I think in the end that’s what we all want. We’re in this together and we’re looking forward to the challenge and making sure we finish the second half of the season the way we started it.”

On his coaching technique…
CA: “You never try to replicate or copy Jesse, I didn’t mention Lothar Osiander, my first amazing soccer coach, Octavio Zambrano, and others. I was always listening and taking. Some of it was hey, that’s really good and some of it was Chris, don’t ever do that, really, I didn’t like the way he treated that guy, there’s a different way to handle that. And sometimes they’re really good the practices, and some of those coaches were really organized and different every day and it was really good. Bob Bradley, fantastic man, manager, and details, and was relentless. I loved that. That’s going to be part of me. So I just kept taking, and maybe deleting, and adding, and then you run your own race. It’s time to run my own race. You can talk this, talk, and then you get there, and it’s my time to put a stamp on this team which is already good. That’s not my opinion. The standings, we’re high up there, we win most of our games, we win at home, we have the best fans in the league, our stadium is incredible, the field is immaculate, the building. I don’t have to say that, people know, it’s perfect. We have everything there for success, and now it’s my time to put a stamp on this, which is the details, the work ethic, the honesty, the everyday coming to work with a good energy and a winning mentality and not letting that slip. Every day. I’ve learned that from some of my best coaches and mentors and I understand what it’s supposed to look like on a daily basis, so I’m excited to run with it.”

On how his style will differ from Jesse’s….
CA: “The humor one is funny because I think even today the tone of our meeting that we had with the guys, people who really know me and even guys who have played against me, I’m a nice guy, and I can give and take a joke here and there, but it’s business for me. I’m not messing around and the guys have to understand that and again people who know me know that there’s one goal in mind and it’s a shiny thing that we haven’t had here. I’m focused on that. I think that it’s something I have to set a tone here in how I work and how I prepare. I think it can get distracted, for me, these first few days have been interesting in that way just to kind of understand and set a certain tone of what it’s like around here. I’m focused on that, I’m comfortable in that and I’m ready to go.”

On finding a new assistant coach…
DH: “We’re in the process of bringing in another coach to make sure we compliment the staff. I know it’s important, there’s a lot that goes into it and so I want to make sure that he’s well equipped for that. We’re in the process and hopefully we’ll have an announcement soon.”

On what positions they are looking at…
DH: “For us we are constantly looking. We’re happy with our roster currently where it’s at, that’s the most important part. I think it speaks for itself in terms of what we’ve been able to do across all three competitions. Secondly, I think we also know we have Red Bulls II in terms we want to look in house sometimes before we go outside. We feel we’re in a good position, we’re going to be very picky to make sure that the right player we bring in, or two make sense in terms of short term and long term. I want to make sure that we make the right decision and so we have a scouting team that are constantly looking to make sure we identify the right guys. If it makes sense on both sides of the coin, then we’ll make sure that we bring that player in.”