TIJUANA, Mexico – Tuesday’s 2-0 away win in the first leg of the quarterfinals put the New York Red Bulls in the driver’s seat, but they know their CONCACAF Champions League battle against Club Tijuana is far from over.
“I’m very pleased with the result, but we know that the job is only half done,” said Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles after his star turn in the upset victory. “We still have to go back to New Jersey and get a result, because we are playing a very good Club Tijuana team.”
Robles, CONCACAF's man of the match, made a whopping 13 saves against a Xolos side that carved out chance after chance but struggled to find the back of the net. He is aware that he may well need to produce another remarkable performance next week in order to help his team sneak into the CCL semifinals.
His fellow veteran Bradley Wright-Phillips, who scored both of RBNY’s goals, was also quick to point out that the second leg at home, set for Tuesday at Red Bull Arena (8 pm ET | UDN, go90.com) might prove more tricky than expected.
“I expect the [home] game to be more difficult,” said the English striker. “I think they know they have to come and score and go for it. We got to be ready for it, this one’s not over.”
Looking over at Tijuana, it’s easy to get a sense that they’ll continue push forward in the attack like they did on Tuesday. Although they were shut out on the scoreboard, Xolos did dominate possession and largely dictated the flow of the game.
More importantly for manager Diego Cocca, his side was able to create opportunities in the final third.
“We spoke recently about the team needing to create scoring chances because it wasn’t creating any. That was the goal,” stated Cocca after the defeat. “The team is generating those opportunities and when it does that, it can reflect in the scoreboard like it did against Pumas and Lobos [in Liga MX league play]. We will continue to look for that. We will continue to try and be consistent.
“If we keep playing like that and generating opportunities to score,” he added, “the second leg is open.”
Can the Red Bulls hold off Tijuana for a second match in a row? They’ll have to do so without midfielder Sean Davis, who is suspended for yellow-card accumulation after picking up a caution on Tuesday, and possibly sans Marc Rzatkowski, who left the match due to injury.
RBNY head coach Jesse Marsch will also have to make some tricky decisions about his lineup on Saturday, when they host the Portland Timbers in their first league match of the season. But it’s hard to imagine how Leg 1 could’ve played out any better for New York.
“This series is far from over,” Marsch said at Estadio Caliente. “They’ll have a good team to put on the field back at Red Bull Arena. This is a good result. Now we have to go back home, make some adjustments, and get ready for another match that’s going to take everything we have.”