HARRISON, N.J. – It was perhaps a bit of a cruel result for the New York Red Bulls, who controlled much of Wednesday night’s quarterfinal first-leg match in the CONCACAF Champions League with the Vancouver Whitecaps and had to settle for a 1-1 result.
A second-half goal by Bradley Wright-Phillips salvaged the draw, in a match where New York were agonizingly close on several occasions, had a Sacha Kljestan penalty saved, and played up a man for the final 20 minutes after Cristian Techera was sent off.
While a victory would have put the Red Bulls in the driver's seat for the quarterfinal series, keeping the score level through the first leg very much gives them hope for the return leg next week in Vancouver.
Head coach Jesse Marsch told reporters after the game, “ultimately, given everything, it’s not a terrible result.”
“It reminds me a little of our first game against Toronto, last year at home here," he explained. "We had a lot of the possession, we were creating a lot of half-chances but we weren’t sharp enough on the day...For me, the overall response in the second half was a real positive."
Given it was the first competitive game of the season for both sides, with the MLS regular season starting in just over a week, there was considerable uncertainty as to how the game would unfold. Wright-Phillips conceded that “on another day, we win 2-1.”
And while the hope is still alive, the Whitecaps do hold a slim advantage, by virtue of scoring a goal on the road.
“Obviously if we get out of here 1-0, it’s a lot better without giving them an away goal. They did pretty well tonight in sticking to their game plan,” Kljestan said.
“And they are probably in the better position right now but I like where we’re at.”
“We showed some good moments, we were pretty sharp, we were dangerous. We were a little unlucky not to find more out of it. I think we’ll take that second half and build on it for next week."