The New York Red Bulls made history on the back of Bradley Wright-Phillips on their way to defeating Club Tijuana in the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals.
Wright-Phillips had a pair assists on the night to push the match out of reach for the Xolos after the Red Bulls defeated the visitors in the first leg of the series.
The Red Bulls all-time leading goal scorer took a decidedly unselfish approach to the match, and powered the Red Bulls to a decisive 3-1 victory on the night, and 5-1 on aggregate.
The victory puts the Red Bulls into the CCL semifinals for the first time in team history.
Coming into the match, the Xolos were down 2-0 on away goals, and needed a quick strike to help gain some traction in the series. With the Red Bulls playing three central defenders, it opened space in the middle of the field for the Xolos to exploit, and they used the space well.
The Xolos opened the scoring in the 10th minute after pulling the Red Bulls out of position. Luis Angel Mendoza provided the tap in finish after a low cross found him in front of an empty net. It certainly wasn’t the start the Red Bulls had dreamed up, and it immediately put pressure on the home team to respond.
While it took nearly 20 minutes of chasing the game, the Red Bulls once again struck against the Xolos on a counter attack. Following a corner kick, Bradley Wright-Phillips carried the ball up the field, finding Michael Murillo on the right wing. Murillo sent in a low cross to the streaking Adams who easily finished returning the Red Bulls to a two goal advantage.
Luis Robles was once again a key figure in what went right for the Red Bulls. Throughout the first half he was called upon to make decisive saves, even pushing a shot off the crossbar with a beauty of a fingertip save.
The game remained evenly contested through the second half, with the Red Bulls gaining inches with each passing minute as the Xolos looked to climb back from the two goal deficit they found themselves in. Marc Rzatkowski iced the match with a well placed finish at the far post on a feed from Wright-Phillips in the 70th minute. Despite getting a hand on the shot, Gilbran Lajud could not keep it out of the net.
Wright-Phillips played provider once again in the 75th minute, finding Alejandro “Kaku” Romero Gamarra making a run at the back post. Gamarra finished low first time to the far post past Lajud.
Just as the first leg had ended with a scrum, the second leg had a number of scuffles that saw players from both sides giving into the emotion of the match and earning yellow cards including Michael Murillo, Kemar Lawrence, Damian Musto, and Pablo Aguilar.
Man of the Match
Bradley Wright-Phillips played the role of provider for the Red Bulls on the night, with a hand in all three goals the Red Bulls scored, and directly assisting the two second half strikes. While Wright-Phillips is usually the one putting the ball in the net for the Red Bulls, he used his size and feet to beat a Xolos backline that was too fast for him to beat on the run.
Moment of the Match
Tyler Adams goal signaled a shift in the match. After absorbing a lot of pressure through the first 20 minutes, a counter attack goal was just what the Red Bulls needed to turn the tides back in their favor.
Match to Forget
Alex Muyl, the oft maligned midfielder, had a very poor night. While he was particularly egregious while wasting a finishing opportunity at the end of the first half, but he did not seem up for the match and never looked settled. He was removed at the half.