The New York Red Bulls once again proved their resolve in the Concaaf Champions League in their first leg fixture with Atletico Pantoja.
After a slow start, the Red Bulls began finding chance after chance. After an own goal, Danny Royer notched an insurance goal to give the Red Bulls a 2-0 aggregate lead heading into next week’s fixture at Red Bull Arena.
The first half provided little beauty. The Red Bulls looked every bit as rusty as a team still in preseason mode. Pantoja deserves credit for not taking it easy on the MLS side. Physical defending and early pressure kept both sides from finding much purchase in the attacking third through the first 20 minutes.
As the first half wore on the Red Bulls created a few dangerous chances. A last minute clearance off the line and a big save on Daniel Royer’s spinning effort kept the game level through the 30th minute.
In the 39th minute, the Red Bulls finally broke through. Following a corner kick, Bradley Wright-Phillips volleyed a ball pinging around the 18-yard box. The ball deflected off of the keeper and a defender before settling into the back of the net.
RBNY head coach Chris Armas made a change to start the second half as he brought on Kemar Lawrence for Connor Lade. The Red Bulls had a couple of good chances to double their advantage in the first 20 minutes. Lawrence’s goal bound cross was cleared off the line and Bradley Wright-Phillips’ effort was stopped by the keeper.
They would finally double their advantage in the 67th minute with a well worked move. Marc Rzatkowski found Kaku in space and the midfielder’s cross found Royer at the back post and he buried his chance.
Armas made his second change of the night in the 74th minute as he brought on Omir Fernandez for Muyl. It was the 20 year-old’s first appearance for the club.
The Red Bulls continued to push for a third, but Royer’s header just went over the bar in the 79th minute and Fernandez had a good chance but shot right at the keeper in the 80th minute.
RBNY continued to get closer to a third as Armas made his last substitution as Brian White came on for BWP. Rzatkowski almost scored a wonder goal, but just missed wide and White and Kaku had efforts go over the bar.
RBNY would see out the rest of the game and will take 2-0 lead back home to Red Bull Arena next Wednesday.