The New York Red Bulls were back in CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday, in El Salvador to take on Alianza FC.
The opening half looked a bit haphazard as both sides started off a bit slow, and passes regularly failed to connect. At halftime, a scoreless draw seemed the most likely outcome.
But Alianza FC had different plans. In the 54th minute, a hand ball was called on Sal Zizzo. The free kick was just outside the RBNY area, Alexander Larin took it and Luis Robles was in perfect position to get to the shot - but it was too well struck. Robles could only marvel with the rest of those watching as the ball arrowed into the net.
After conceding the goal, Jesse Marsch wasted little time in calling on his substitutes. Sacha Kljestan came into the match in the 61st minute for Shaun Wright-Phillips, then Omer Damari came on for Derrick Etienne Jr. in the 67th minute. With those twoon the field, the equalizer arrived.
In the 71st minute, the Red Bulls attacked the net. Justin Bilyeu played the ball across goal, and Damari came out of nowhere to convert inside the far post.
The goal stood up to secure RBNY a valuable point in CCL, keeping the MLS team at the top of Group F and on track for a knockout round berth.h.
Other than the set piece that beat Robles, the Red Bulls played well, holding strong defensively against consistent pressure from Alianza FC. Up front, we saw some nice movement coming from Derrick Etienne Jr. as well as from Gonzalo Veron who continues to impress as he gains minutes and confidence.
Next, the Red Bulls will head back to league play. It is Hate DC Week as they head back to RFK Stadium to face an old friend in the ranks of a familiar foe. This weekend, RBNY will confront Lloyd Sam for the first time since he was traded to DC United.