The New York Red Bulls strolled past Atlético Pantoja in the second leg of their Concacaf Champions League series.
Despite being heavily favored in the match, it took the Red Bulls a while to find the back of the net, but ultimately owned the match with a comfortable 3-0 victory, and 5-0 on aggregate. Daniel Royer once again found himself on the score sheet against the side from the Dominican Republic.
Once again, the Red Bulls started the match in the driver’s seat. The home side found pockets of space behind Pantoja regularly, but struggled to create real danger. Alex Muyl squandered a golden opportunity in the 13th minute. Bradley Wright-Phillips squared a ball across the six yard box to Muyl, but the latter failed to reach the ball, wasting an open net. Wright-Phillips struck the crossbar ten minutes later.
Sean Davis broke the deadlock in the 27th minute. The Red Bulls held possession around Pantoja’s 18-yard box. After a few failed cross attempts, the ball popped out to Davis at the top of the box. The midfielder leapt and delicately headed the ball into the net.
Then in the 30th minute, the Red Bulls earned a penalty kick. Connor Lade strolled into the box and was taken down with a clumsy touch from a defender. Daniel Royer lined up the PK and blasted it past Pascual Ramirez to double the lead.
Andreas Ivan scored his first goal as a Red Bull in the 75th minute to ice the match. Kaku lofted a ball into the box, and Ivan brought down the failed clearance. Ivan took a touch and turned, then fired a bullet past Ramirez. Acquired during the summer transfer window, Ivan struggled to get on the score sheet in the latter half of the season.
Next up, the Red Bulls host Santos Laguna in the quarter-final. Santos rolled over Marathon over two legs and showed their attacking strength. The Red Bulls defense face a much stiffer competition from the Liga MX side.
Along with easily winning the match, the Red Bulls bench provided a different kind of highlight. Kyle Duncan returned to the field after missing most of the 2018 season with an ACL injury. Additionally, draft pick Sean Nealis made his professional debut, replacing Aaron Long in the second half.
The only blight on the match came when Michael Murillo picked up a yellow card in the second half. The card disqualifies him from the next match against Santos Laguna in the quarter-final.
Man of the match
Kaku – Despite not finding his name on the score sheet, the playmaker created danger all night for the Red Bulls. Whether he was driving at the defense or splitting lines, Kaku was the man on the night.
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography