Late Collapse Ruins Comeback as Red Bulls Fall Out of CONCACAF Champions League

Posted By Peter Nolan on March 13, 2019

On a blustery night in Torreon, Mexico, the New York Red Bulls came to town with their CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) hopes all but extinguished following last Tuesday night’s 2-0 home loss to Santos Laguna in the first leg, only to quickly set the tie on its head by scoring twice in the opening nine minutes.

Homegrown product Omir Fernandez set the stage for the visitors with his first ever Red Bulls goal in the fourth minute. The Bronx, N.Y, native beat Santos Laguna keeper Jonathan Orozco, unbeatable just seven days earlier at Red Bull Arena, to give the visitors hope.

That hope multiplied just six minutes later when Daniel Royer, who earned an assist on Fernadez’ opener, leveled the aggregate at two when he slotted home from a Bradley Wright-Phillips set up to stun the boisterous Estadio Corona crowd into something approaching silence.

In the 23rd minute, Orozco shut down Wright-Phillips, a flashback to last Tuesday at RBA, when the RBNY hitman fired at the keeper from close range. New York netminder Luis Robles did his part to keep the home team at bay robbing Marlos Moreno in a one v one battle at the 40-minute mark, preserving the good vibes for the Red Bulls just ahead of the intermission.

A Tale of Two Halves

Whatever words of wisdom the coach Salvador Reyes imparted during the break, Santos Laguna was a different team at the restart, immediately pinning the Red Bulls in their own end, earning corners and putting Robles’ goal under pressure. Then, as the Red Bulls began to work their way into the second half, Jose Abella fired Santos back into the second leg with a 72nd-minute strike that proved to be the beginning of a four goal in nine minutes onslaught that left New York in tatters, along with their CCL dreams.

After Abella’s opener, the goals came fast and furious for the home side. First from Brian Lozano in the 76th minute, then just three minutes later Diego Valdes got on the scoresheet before Lozano struck again in the 81st minute. That last goal from Lozano had to be a particularly bitter one for New York and its fine keeper and captain Luis Robles to surrender, as Lozano caught Robles off his line a blasted, Carli Lloyd style to beat the New York keeper from the far side of midfield. And so a night that had begun with so much promise, two goals in nine minutes, unraveled just as quickly as the Red Bulls conceded four times in that same time frame to see their CCL dream turn into a nightmare.

Santos win the game 4-2, and advance 6-2 on aggregate.

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Peter Nolan

Peter Nolan has been on the soccer beat for many years now, covering the United States Men's and Women's teams, from the SnowClasico to Azteca and back again. Along with the US national teams, Peter will provide insight into the MLS and NWSL, with a focus on the NY Red Bulls and NYCFC.

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