TIJUANA, Mexico – Though they’d just made history, the New York Red Bulls did their best to stay grounded after brilliant performances from Luis Robles and Bradley Wright-Phillips snared them a shock 2-0 win over Liga MX side Club Tijuana in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series on Tuesday night.
While Wright-Phillips was the standout with his goals in the 9th and 67th minute, Robles proved to be the true hero for the Red Bulls, the 33-year-old goalkeeper standing tall with 13 saves in front of over 22,000 fans at the Estadio Caliente.
RBNY’s hosts did not take kindly to the circumstances of the upset.
“Look, the factors, I’m only going to name three,” said Xolos manager Diego Cocca during his post-game press conference. “First the rival goalkeeper, later the linesman who didn’t give us the goal that was [called offside], and also the lack of efficiency from our team.”
Robles’ influence on the final result was clear, while the refereeing crew drew the ire of the home side for a contentious offside decision that waved off what would’ve been the equalizing goal in the 64th minute by Ignacio Rivero. And with more than 60 percent of possession and 30 shots by Tijuana, 13 of them on target, Cocca had reason to lament his side’s wastefulness.
As for Red Bulls manager Jesse Marsch, there was a sense of relief from the coach who knew that everything needed to click in order to gain the win, which is only the third on Mexican soil for MLS teams in CCL.
“When we came down here, we knew it was going to take a big effort,” said Marsch after the match. “We knew it was going to take a little luck. So, we had to hang on, we needed our goalkeeper to come up with some big saves. We needed our defenders to empty the tank and give everything they had.
“Like I said, it took a little bit of luck, but in the end it’s a wonderful result for us, but it’s only halftime. This is far from over and we know that going back to Red Bull Arena we are going to have a very tough match again.”
Another 90 minutes of play are still left in this series, but for now, Marsch’s men can hold their heads high.