The New York Red Bulls suffered their first loss in the CONCACAF Champions League last week, falling 1-0 to a gritty Guadalajara team in Mexico. It was not the worst possible way to lose, but failing to get an away goal was a big blow to Jesse Marsch and his team. Now, the team has to put the defeat behind them as they welcome Guadalajara to Red Bull Arena for the second leg.
Aurelien Collin saw red in the first leg, so he will be an obvious yet welcoming miss from the Red Bulls starting XI. His rash challenges have put the Red Bulls in tough situations time and time again, so his absence from the team seems like more of a blessing. Tim Parker has proven that he can be the level headed enforcer the team needs, so he would be the smarter choice moving forward for that role.
Alex Muyl sadly returned to his old form, creating a whole lot of nothing during his 61 minutes of play time. Marc Rzatkowski should see a return to the lineup in the second leg, likely replacing Muyl from the start. Rzatkowski has settled nicely into the team after a rough start and is just the type of dynamic midfielder the Red Bulls need for this match.
The Red Bulls also need their goal scorers to step up big time if they want to advance to the finals. It may seem a bit harsh to say, but Bradley Wright-Phillips needs to step it up big time in this second leg. He missed a valuable chance to tie the game after a fortunate bounce put him one on one with the keeper. The team will need to take these chances when they fall to them, as they could be the difference between disappointment and delight.
Overall, the team did not play poorly. The one goal they allowed was due to a silly turnover that resulted in a 2 on 1, ultimately seeing Luis Robles get beat for only the third time in this competition. The defense played well apart from Collin, and the attack had a few moments to build on. Marsch could not ask for much more from a loss, and the Red Bulls still have a full 90 minutes or more to prove they are not done.
Guadalajara will not be a fun team to play, though, especially as they try and kill off this game. They already showed that they can play rough, getting into multiple altercations with various Red Bulls players throughout the match. Some were a bit dramatic at times as well, creating even more tension heading into the second leg. Winning the mental side of the game will be a big step forward for the Red Bulls, and they must ensure to not get caught up in the antics of the Guadalajara players.
A single goal by the Red Bulls will turn this tie in their favor, and will be even more valuable if it can come in the first half. The one home goal scored by Guadalajara does not carry much weight, but an away goal could be devastating for Marsch’s side. Though they are a goal down on aggregate, a defensive mindset should come first for the Red Bulls, unless they have not scored by the 65th minutes. After that, the offensive explosion can take place.
Red Bull Arena will be much fuller than usual, but the support could be in the favour of the visiting side. Many Guadalajara supporters live around Harrison, New Jersey and are gearing up for a fantastic match. If the friendly between the visitors and Bayern Munich a few years back is anything to go by, there will be an abundance of supporters cheering on Guadalajara.
Regardless of fan support, the Red Bulls will know what they need to do. Nothing else but a trip to the CONCACAF Champions League final will be on their mind. Guadalajara will play tough, fast paced, and at times chippy football just to get past the Red Bulls. Marsch will once again need to bring his A-game if he wants to lead his team to glory, and it will require a hard nosed effort from each and every player to come out on top.