Chivas de Guadalajara is moving on the in Concacaf Champions League after holding onto their slim aggregate lead to leave the New York Red Bulls asking “what if” yet again.
After winning the first leg of the semifinal series against the Red Bulls, Chivas had to stop the Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena, a task that no team had yet accomplished in 2018. Despite the active away support in the stands, Chivas remained content to stifle the Red Bulls rather than attack. It was a strategy that ultimately proved successful, winning 1-0 on aggregate with a 0-0 draw.
The Red Bulls came out in the first half exactly as Jesse Marsch would have wanted. They played with intensity and focus, seemingly never letting Chivas settle into the game. All that was missing for the Red Bulls was the final product, though they had numerous chances.
Their best chance in the half came from a nifty pass and move play between Florian Valot, Tyler Adams, and Daniel Royer. Royer managed to place a cross low in front of the goal mouth, but the out stretched foot of Kemar Lawrence could not reach the cross in time.
Chivas played to their strengths, remaining patient, allowing the Red Bulls to run themselves all around the field, and pick their chances moving forward. They also made sure to slow down the game playing physically at all levels of the field.
Chivas slowly climbed into the game in the second half as they found more room to operate as the Red Bulls began to run out of steam. Their counter attacking moves began to spell danger to the Red Bulls with every errant ball from the 50th minute onward. The Red Bulls grasp on the game and the series hung in the balance.
When it mattered most, the Red Bulls could not find a way to break down a team that is willing to put all of its players behind the ball, conceding possession, and frustrating a stagnant offense.
Man of the Match
Chivas’s entire backline deserves the credit. Edwin Hernandez, Oswaldo Alanis, Carlos Salcido, and Carlos Cisneros put in a herculean effort, turning the Red Bulls away at every chance.
Moment of the Match
Royer’s cross that looked destined for the back of the goal that went begging was the story of the match for the Red Bulls. The frustration of years of futility in a single play.
Match to Forget
Bradley Wright-Phillips did not stand out as the worst player on the Red Bulls, but he failed to live up to his enormous reputation at a critical moment for the club yet again. Back to the drawing board.