This second leg in the Round of 16 of the CONCACAF Champions League was the hope of defining what the New York Red Bulls were going to be about when they needed a big performance to stamp themselves into a possible deep run of this tournament.
They made some headway as both Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sean Davis converted some big goals to put them in the drivers seat and sends the Red Bulls to the Quarterfinals of the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League.
The first goal was scored in the 54th minute as Bradley Wright-Phillips somehow got the ball out of a midfield scrum and spun towards Olimpia’s net for a big attacking run, As soon as BWP gets close to the area, he rips it hard short side and Donis Escobar never moved a muscle as the ball splashed the back of the net.
“This team relies heavily on Brad. When you look at what he’s done for the last five seasons, it’s pretty remarkable that he continues to, in a way, live above his hype. For him in a big moment, in a big situation, to give us that goal not only took a lot of pressure off our back but allowed us to come into the game and really believe that we could see ourselves through this.” said Luis Robles, “Brad is the type of guy that is always going to deflect praise but every ounce of every compliment that comes his way, every ounce of honor, everything that highlights just how remarkable he is as a player is deserved.”
Then Sean Davis was able to get that second goal ten minutes later as they would pad their lead in the match as well as the aggregate. Tyler Adams would attack down the near side and he heard Davis call for the ball.
As soon as Davis received it, he would move towards the center of the field and struck a beautiful ball that deflected twice and then inside the left of the net while Escobar was going towards the right. The first deflection hit a foot, then the second was off the back of the defender and in.
“It’s something that I have worked on a lot, and so I was disappointed not to get more shots off in the first half and at half time I heard from not only the staff but from my teammates.” said Sean Davis, “I was able to slow myself down and create a little space and obviously a fortunate deflection, but it’s just encouraging to get more shots and that’s for the entire team. Most importantly that gave us a two-nothing cushion and that really allowed us to advance.”
But there was a scary moment for the Red Bulls within the 57th minute as Olimpia almost equalized and luck was on the Red Bulls Side. After some fancy movement inside the Red Bulls area, Michael Chirinos got free and ripped a hard shot that was saved by Luis Robles, but he put the rebound right at Diego Reyes who somehow shanked his shot and the ball rolled harmlessly wide of the far post.
But after two legs in the Round of 16 of the CONCACAF Champions League, Jesse Marsch was happy with the result, but still felt that they were still not at their best even though this is their second straight competitive match.
“We are still not at our sharpest yet, but we were able to command the game like we often do. We were not able to capitalize on moments, but you still felt like that game was pretty much in control the whole time. A few difficult moments, but I thought that our organization, our discipline, our compactness made it difficult for them to find the game and I thought overall we managed the game well.” said Marsch, “This early in the year to be tested like that is great. I think that we have a group that is ready for moments like this that’s fearless, that’s ready for big challenges early on. It is fun and exciting and we also got to get a few guys in the game … [Alejandro Romero] Gamarra and [Carlos] Rivas and get them going because we think those guys are going to be a big help this year, so we need to continue to integrate them and get them fit and make them a part of our group. Overall, a very good night.”
But now the Red Bulls are already thinking of their next match in the CONCACAF Champions League as they will be flying down to Mexico and facing the Xolos of Club Tijuana in the Quarterfinals as their road leg match will be on Tuesday, March 6th and their home leg will be on Tuesday, March 13th. This should be a fantastic tie.