Whitecaps' David Ousted keeps penalty save streak intact at Red Bull Arena

HARRISON, N.J.—There's just something about Red Bull Arena for Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted.

The last time that Ousted played at the New York Red Bulls' home in June 2015, he stopped (now) two-time MLS Golden Boot winner Bradley Wright-Phillips twice from the penalty spot. On Wednesday night in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal at Red Bull Arena, Ousted again stopped a penalty kick en route to an important 1-1 road draw that puts his team as slight favorites to advance in the tournament.

With three consecutive penalty stops, Ousted is quickly burnishing a legend across North America. His latest bit of heroics was a stop just after the restart on Red Bulls playmaker Sacha Kljestan, a play that at the time preserved a 1-0 scoreline for the visitors.

New York equalized in the 61st minute on a clinical finish from BWP, but Ousted’s penalty save would prove the seminal moment.

Even Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson conceded the Red Bulls' goal was probably warranted, one way or another.

"We maybe dodged a bullet with the penalty, and were a little lucky there, so maybe they deserved their goal," he said.

But Robinson made sure to hail his goalkeeper for the penalty stop.

"Sacha’s a top player, we know that," Robinson said. "He’s obviously trying to outthink the keeper and the keeper’s outthought him, and it’s a game of minds. You either score or you miss, and tonight we got lucky. It was a great save from David."

The Whitecaps were perhaps fortunate to hold on for the road draw, after Cristian Techera was given a straight red card for a high challenge on Sal Zizzo in the 70th minute.

Robinson was not willing to weigh in.

"I thought Cristian was excellent in the game. he was a threat. I thought his positional play was quality. I was disappointed to lose him. Was it a red card? I haven’t seen it, actually, so you could ask him whether it is."

Yet the Red Bulls couldn't up the actual offensive pressure, only putting 2-of-14 shots on target, and were denied their most likely chance by Ousted. The 'Caps GK said that prior to the game, he did think about those two penalty kick saves from two seasons ago at Red Bull Arena, but didn’t read into it too much heading into Wednesday’s fixture.

But he did study film on Kljestan’s penalty-kick tendencies, something that came in handy as the US international attempted to go straight down the middle.

“I looked at what Sacha does and how he’s good at sometimes getting the keeper to overcommit to those penalties,” Ousted said. “Waited as long as possible and stuck out a leg and luckily I got there.”

Wright-Phillips, who used to take penalty kicks for the Red Bulls until he was relieved of that duty in 2015, talked with Kljestan after the match and he told the Red Bulls captain that he wants him to continue on taking penalty kicks.

“Well, Sacha’s had a good record since I missed two against [Ousted] – he should not be allowed in the stadium, by the way,” Wright-Phillips said with a laugh.

“Even the next one I want him to take because they gave me that opportunity. He’s a great penalty taker, I see him in training all the time, it’s just the keeper did well. He was brave enough to go up, he got the ball first and he took it try and get a goal and it didn’t work out. He’s our captain and I expect him to take the next one."

Perhaps the downside to this impressive run from Ousted's perspective is how rarely he gets to play at Red Bull Arena. The Whitecaps return to Red Bull Arena late in the MLS regular season, on October 7.

Ousted has no idea what the Red Bulls will do if another penalty kick is called in that match.

“They’ll obviously assess it and look, there might be a new guy stepping up next time. Bradley promised me that he’s going to take the next one. So [he] put the challenge there so I’ll accept it. We’ll see,” Ousted said.