The New york Red Bulls knew they had a daunting task to head down to Torreon, Mexico and face Santos Laguna in their home stadium in their second leg of the Quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League.
Being down two away goals against Santos Laguna was already a big problem, but they felt they were going to find a way to erase that deficit and make a game out of this second leg. Well early on they did by erasing that two goal hole.
In their first trip inside the area of Santos Laguna, the Red Bulls got on the board early as Kaku made a nice pass to Daniel Royer who caught up to the ball at the end line, then crossed it towards the middle of the six yard box and out of no where, Omir Fernandez split the defenders and converted his chance.
His first professional goal as a member of the New York Red Bulls for the Bronx, NY native, as he started the comeback in the 4th minute. But five minutes later, the man who has scored his third goal in four CCL games would step up himself and leveled the aggregate.
Florian Valot makes a nice pass to Bradley Wright-Phillips, while having a defender on him, makes a nice pass into a space inside the Santos Laguna area, and Royer takes a rip and converts the goal that leveled the aggregate as well as the away goals.
After a strong opening 45 minutes, it felt as if the Red Bulls were going to find a way to solve one of the toughest sides in all of Liga MX. The possibility of either getting to a penalty kick shootout, or the bigger hope was to get a third and escape Torreon with a great result.
But sadly that never came as the damn finally broke on the Red Bulls, as Santos Laguna pounded them with four goals within a span of ten minutes. The first one was converted by Jose Abella in the 72nd minute.
Three Red Bulls defenders surrounded Deinner Quinones, which left a big chunk of space for Abella to get into position and ripped a perfect shot across the face of goal and Luis Robles, then splashed inside the back post to regain control of the aggregate.
Then Brian Lozano with a brace and Diego Valdes combined to pour it on and from that point on, the Red Bulls were well out of the picture as Santos Laguna will advance to the Semi-Finals for the first time in a very long time.
Yes it hurt the Red Bulls by not converting any chances in the first leg, back at Red Bull Arena, but the fight they showed in the opening 45 minutes was fantastic. But once again their form to finish the match wasn’t there as the club has only played one league game.
“I’m proud of the guys for sure. This is a hard place to play, it was a warm and there was altitude, but exactly with what we were looking for.” said Chris Armas “A team that stepped on the field with courage, we were brave and they put in a lot into that first half.
“In the second half things got away from us a little bit. Maybe we were tired, and Santos grew into the game. Credit to Santos Laguna but I’m proud of our guys. We take some more experience and the exposure is invaluable.”
While it is difficult not to see the Red Bulls advancing to the Semi-Finals against Tigres, they still showed fight and desire, but now they need to move forward and get ready for their home opener against the San Jose Earthquakes against the head coach that eliminated then from the CONCACAF Champions League last year in Mathias Almeyda