A 1-1 draw may not have been exactly what the New York Red Bulls were hoping for from their Round of 16 CONCACAF Champions League clash with CD Olimpia, but it sets them up nicely to take control in the return leg.
Despite the Red Bulls being in MLS preseason while CD Olimpia came into Thursday on a nine-game unbeaten streak in Liga Nacional action, it was the Red Bulls who looked to be in the superior form. They dominated the first half, holding a 65-35 percent edge in possession and bombarding CD Olimpia with eight shots while the Honduran side didn't get a single shot off. It finally paid off when a splendid cross from Bradley Wright-Phillips found the head of Daniel Royer, putting the Red Bulls ahead.
Olimpia came out of halftime looking to even the score, but the Red Bulls did well to weather the storm until Aurélien Collin gave up a game-changing penalty kick. Olimpia's Bryan Moya equalized from the spot – very much against the run of play – and now both sides have the opportunity to control their destiny in Leg 2.
Although CD Olimpia were the home side, the match was played at Estadio Nacional in Costa Rica due to ongoing political unrest in Honduras. It was also played in an empty stadium as punishment for problematic behavior from Olimpia fans in a previous Champions League match. The two sides will meet once more at Red Bull Arena next week.
- 31' - NY - Daniel Royer
- 73' - OLI - Brayan Moya (PK)
- The Big Picture: One leg down, one more to go. Regardless of the 1-1 result, the Red Bulls nabbed a crucial away goal that gives them the tie-breaker edge for the moment. Now, the Red Bulls get to go back to New York and try to pull ahead on aggregate in front of their home fans. But even if they can't, as long as they don't let Olimpia score in Leg 2, they will advance to the CCL quarterfinals.
- Moment of the Match: Everything was going pretty well for the Red Bulls – that is, until Aurélien Collin hacked down Michaell Chirinos in the box in the 72nd minute. The game-changing penalty allowed CD Olimpia to equalize in a match the Red Bulls had otherwise dominated. The Red Bulls controlled the first half and weathered a difficult start to the second half, but Collin's penalty changed the game on a dime.
- Man of the Match: In a strong team performance for the New York Red Bulls, it came down to individual displays of brilliance to make the difference. There was none better than Bradley Wright-Phillips' winger-esque pinpoint cross to Daniel Royer's head to net an all-important away goal. He was otherwise dynamic and threatening throughout the night and helped lead the Red Bulls to a strong showing.
- Leg 2: New York Red Bulls vs. CD Olimpia at Red Bull Arena | March 1 at 8 pm ET (univisiondeportes.com and go90.com in the U.S.)