After being absent from last season’s competition, the New York Red Bulls came out with a strong performance in their return to the CONCACAF Champions League.
The Red Bulls opened up Group F play with a 3-0 win over Antigua GFC on Wednesday night at Red Bull Arena. The MLS side will return to Champions League action on August 16 when the Red Bulls travel to El Salvador to face Alianza.
Sacha Kljestan had only been on the field for one minute, but the key Red Bulls playmaker found the net with an easy tap in with 11 minutes remaining, which sealed all three points for the MLS side.
On a night where Alex Muyl did just about everything right but was denied by the post on several occasions, the Red Bulls rookie doubled the home side’s advantage in the 62nd minute.
After an early flurry of pressure from the Red Bulls early on, Jesse Marsch’s group took the lead in the 14th minute when Antigua scored an own goal. Sean Davis’ dangerous corner kick set up the sequence, which was misdirected into the net by Antigua’s Jose Pinto.
Antigua nearly responded on the opposite end six minutes later when Augustin Herrera found himself in on goal with a breakaway. Red Bulls goalkeeper Ryan Meara made himself big, though, and kept the visitors off the scoreboard.
The Guatemalan side found themselves reduced to 10 men just before the half hour mark when Sixto Betancourt was sent off for a rash challenge on Felipe.
The Red Bulls managed several qualities opportunities in the opening half, including two chances that struck the crossbar and stayed out. First, rookie Alex Muyl hit woodwork from the left side of the box in the 21st minute, before Gonzalo Veron’s volley 12 minutes later narrowly missed the back of the net.