The New York Red Bulls had belief in themselves throughtout this week in training, as they knew the task at hand was going to be difficult and they also felt that the had an advantage at home to get the proper result, to move on to the next round.
Well with the situation they were faced with to being down a goal on aggregate, not conceeding an away goal, the Red Bulls were able to get a positive result by scoring three times at home, earning a clean sheet and win their two legged series by a final of three goals to one.
The opening goal came in the 17th minute as the Red Bulls earned a free kick along the far side of the field, Sean Davis crossed it well to Daniel Royer, who headed back across the eighteen finds Aaron Long.
As he struck the ball, it somehow deflected off of Alex Muyl’s left foot and beats Zack Steffen to give the Red Bulls an early lead and level the aggregate at one a piece. This was the moment that the Red Bulls needed to stay the course, to continue throughout the night and try to take advantage of their opponents.
There were no substitutions being made by both head coaches. They were content to see how this one was going to play out, till that big moment came in the 73rd minute where Daniel Royer stepped up and buried his chances.
It was a tic, tac, toe type of passing in close range as Muyl received the ball at the top of the area. He quickly finds Tyler Adams, who finds Royer inside the area and with a hard shot beats Steffen to his right to make it two nil in the second leg, and two to one on aggregate.
But Royer wasn’t done yet as he smelled the blood in the water. He knew there had to be a third goal or else, the door was going to be wide open for the Crew to sneak in with a chance to win the aggregate on an away goal.
Three minutes later Royer converted his second of the night as he gets a fantastic ball, laid off to him while making a run towards the Columbus area. He picked it up and moved into the middle, and blasted a shot that went top shelf, putting Red Bull Arena into euphoria.
After the final whistle blew the New York Red Bulls won the second leg by a final of three goals to nil, while winning the aggregate three goals to one. In their fourth attempt to defeat the Columbus Crew in the playoff, the Red Bulls were successful.
For Gregg Berhalter it was a tough defeat to lose the series at Red Bull Arena.
“I think we knew they were going to concentrate on Federico (Higuaín), and we knew this wasn’t going to be a performance where he would dominate, as they were so intent on marking him.” said Berhalter “We started to use him to open up space and we had some success, moving him towards the sides to try and get something going.
“Red Bull did a very good job, give them a lot of credit. That’s the first thing that needs to be said, they played an excellent game and we weren’t at our best. When your not at your best then it’s very difficult to win.”
For Chris Armas this was his first playoff win as a head coach. he was proud at how his side, including Daniel Royer’s performance, dominated the Crew when they got inside the locker room with a lead at halftime.
“Well I don’t think anyone is so surprised, with Danny how he buried his chances.” Said Armas. “He’s been pushing hard, training well, coming back from an injury, so I’m really happy for Danny coming back from injury and he’s our one, two punch with Bradley.
“At halftime. Well it was good to get that goal in the first half especially a team like Columbus who are very organized, but there was a few things to talk about inside the locker room.
We knew within transition we had to slow down a bit, there were some things tactically that was slipping and we addressed it. There was a lot of great energy inside the locker room, we were feeling good and that’s a positive.”
So the Red Bulls have won their first goal aggregate series against the Columbus Crew, that means with Atlanta United taking care of business against New York City FC, 1st & 2nd of the East and the Shield race will now face each other in the East Finals.
The league is already finding the bounty paper towels as their mouths are watering for a fantastic series, before we get to December 8th as one of these two sides can host the MLS Cup Finals.