When the New York Red Bulls were eliminated from the CONCACAF Champions League, it was a bitter pill to swallow. The team had leveled the aggregate score in the first ten minutes of the match, only to suffer a four-goal onslaught in the second half.
Austrian midfielder Daniel Royer tallied a goal and an assist in the second leg match against Santos Laguna. With three goals in the tournament, Royer was on pace to compete for the Golden Boot. Now he must turn this creative energy to MLS league play.
Two Legs, Two Goals
In the first leg of the Round of 16, Royer posted five total shots during the match against Club Atletico Pantoja. With 89% passing accuracy, Royer was able to keep the pressure on the opposition. His goal in the 66th minute during the run of play cemented the team’s position on their return to Harrison. Back at Red Bull Arena, another five shots and a penalty kick goal in the 32nd minute continued to raise RBNY past Pantoja. Winning with an aggregate score 5-0, Royer showed the form that eluded him at the start of the previous season.
The Quarterfinal against Liga MX side Santos Laguna was a very different challenge. Having come off an 11-2 aggregate win, Santos were ready to prove they could beat the high press and quick transition style RBNY offered. Royer was only able to make one shot in the match. He made way for Derrick Etienne, Jr. in the 77th minute. Down only 2 goals by the final whistle, Royer and the MLS side were confident they could make a comeback at Estadio Corona the next week.
The team nearly did so, with Royer on an assist just four minutes into the match (Omir Fernandez goal). He was back to his own scoring ways just five minutes later. However, a collapse in the second half pushed Santos Laguna to a 4-2 win in their home stadium.
Royer has yet to play a match this season in league action. But with eleven goals in 29 games during 2018, there is plenty of reason to believe he is going to contribute further. The squad of strikers (including Andreas Ivan and newcomer Mathias Jorgensen) must feel they have something to prove, coming off a record-breaking season in terms of league points.
The team will have an opportunity midseason with the Lamar Hunt Open Cup. Additionally, the MLS playoffs will better reward teams that perform well throughout the season. They key for Royer and RBNY is going to be consistency going forward.
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography