With the 2-0 loss against Santos Laguna, the Red Bulls have another ninety minutes to keep their run alive in the CONCACAF Champions League.
This is not unfamiliar territory for the team. Their most recent frustration was the MLS Eastern Conference Championship, where they fell to eventual Cup winners Atlanta United. But if there’s a will from the team as a whole, there is definitely still a way.
The Red Bulls were not without opportunities throughout the match. Midfielders Alex Muyl and Alejandro “Kaku” Romero Gamarra were able to feed the ball right up to the goal. With a total of 22 crosses during the match, it is down to the strikers to keep their bearings. Being able to settle the ball in the second leg should yield better results. Also, the shots from distance need to be more fruitful. Andreas Ivan, who has tallied two goals for RBNY, has the potential to be that kind of striker.
The Red Bulls tallied seven corner kicks in the first leg. They have been known as a serious threat on those set pieces. Aaron Long and Tim Parker are particularly dangerous in those situations. Bringing them up, while never an issue for the team, will be key to racking up shots on goal. Sean Davis and Kaku work well together on free kicks and can create chances there.
While the Red Bulls enjoy a bye in league play, roster rotation from the first to second leg is still an important option. Defender Michael Amir Murillo will return from suspension for yellow card accumulation. Newcomer Mathias Jorgensen is in training and could well be ready for the second leg. Kemar Lawrence is day-to-day and can shore up the back line again if he is healthy next week. Seeing Ivan and Derrick Etienne Jr. sooner rather than later will keep the Santos defense on their toes.
Manager Chris Armas acknowledged the challenge ahead. But he assured fans that the team wasn’t downtrodden about their chances. “In the locker room, there’s good energy in there after the game,” Armas said in a press conference. “We know it’s a tough task but one that we’re up for.” Being able to hold Santos to two goals gives them a solid chance to overcome the deficit in Estadio Corona next week.
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography