When the New York Red Bulls hosted Atletico Pantoja in the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16, they were already commanding the lead.
Another two goals in the first half (Sean Davis 27’ and Daniel Royer 39’) all but sewed up the game. But there was time for a little bit of magic in the second half, which came from 2018 summer transfer Andreas Ivan. His shot from distance in the 75th minute put a bow on the match, sending the Red Bulls to the quarterfinals for the third straight year.
German Star Rising
Ivan, a Romanian international, made a name for himself in German football. Promoted to the first team for Stuttgart in 2013, he was part of the squad that avoided relegation that year (8-8-18, 32 points). From there, he went on to play in several teams in Germany, where he racked up sixteen goals and fourteen assists across all competitions.
His last season in Germany was with SV Waldhof Mannheim, in the Southeast Regional league. His eight goals and six assists there seemed to have caught the attention of the New York Red Bulls. He was the sole transfer of the summer in 2018, and made five appearances with the first team last season.
Champions League Heroics
Ivan took over for Bradley Wright-Phillips in the 67th minute of the home leg match. It did not take long for his presence to be felt. His screamer from just inside the 18-yard box nailed the back of the net and sent a ripple of cheers through the South Ward. “I knew that I was going to shoot straight on goal. It feels great,” Ivan said in a post-match interview. “First goal and all the emotions and my teammates come and celebrate.”
Forward Rotation Possibility
A forward who can supply other players as well. The team expects this from Red Bull II promotions Derrick Etienne, Jr. and Brian White. The club has made it clear that they expect as much from newcomer Mathias Jorgensen. Wright-Phillips and Royer will have not only the support they need, but also the flexibility to step aside. If the Red Bulls team can cultivate a deep supply of forwards of this sort, there will be no stopping the team in any competition.
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography