Wednesday night’s result wasn’t ideal for the New York Red Bulls, who emerged from the Estadio Akron with a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Chivas de Guadalajara. The result ensures the MLS side will be at a disadvantage heading back into the second leg, and the lack of an away goal will make matters difficult if Chivas was to get on the board in Game 2.
However, Red Bulls boss Jesse Marsch sees it all to play for, and he also sees a team that is more than up for the challenge of taking down a top Mexican side in a two-legged affair.
“I think we got exactly what we thought we’d get, which was combative counter-pressing, making it difficult on us when we had the ball,” Marsch said following the opening leg. “We chose to play direct often to try and bypass some of their pressure. We could have been a little bit more opportunistic, a little bit sharper making some plays in the final third, but against a really good Chivas team in a very tough place to play, only being down one goal is a good result for us.
“Am I satisfied with the result? All in all, I think both teams put a lot into it. It was a big battle, very combative. It’s probably pretty even.”
The match was fairly even, although Chivas enjoyed a bulk of the possession. It was a match filled with physicality, and even a bit of controversy as the two teams certainly took offense to some of the hard challenges that flew throughout the match.
On a night where both teams struggled to create chances, a single mistake was damning for a Red Bulls team that lost because of it. Following a Tyler Adams giveaway in midfield, Chivas star Rodolfo Pizarro led a counter-attack, finding Isaac Brizuela for a swift goal that could be the turning point in the series.
“Tyler is a great player. He has a great future ahead of him. It’s normal that young players make little mistakes,” Marsch said. “For the most part, he was a very important player for us tonight and he’ll continue to be a very important player for us this year.
“When you coach young players, you have to have patience at times. They’re not going to make every decision perfectly, they’re not going to make every play perfectly. Tyler is a big player for us. I guarantee you he will respond in the second leg in a big way.”
Hope for a Red Bulls comeback took a severe dent in the 73rd minute as Aurellien Collin was sent off for a second yellow card. In Marsch’s eyes, the first yellow issued to the Frenchman was questionable while the second seemed a bit more clear. Regardless, Collin will now miss the second leg alongside Alex Muyl, who will be suspended due to yellow card accumulation.
It wasn’t as if the Red Bulls didn’t have their chances, though. Opportunities were hard to come by, with the two teams combining for just four shots on target. The Red Bulls’ best look came after Collin’s dismissal as Bradley Wright-Phillips saw a one-on-one chance smothered by Chivas’ Rodolfo Cota for the goalkeeper’s lone save of the match.
“One zero, we’re down and Bradley Wright-Phillips has a very good chance and he comes up with a big save,” March said. “If we score that goal, we come out of here feeling like the game went as planned. Unfortunate for us, a big save and we don’t get our away goal, but we’ll be ready at Red Bull Arena to push things.”
Wednesday night’s loss was the Red Bulls’ first of the tournament as well as the first match in which they’d been held scoreless this season. March expects goals to return when the two teams collide at Red Bull Arena on Tuesday.
The Red Bulls haven’t given up a goal at home yet this season, although defending against this Chivas side will be another diffiult task. But, in Marsch’s eyes, it’s only “halftime”, and there’s plenty left to play for.
“I would expect a lot of Mexican fans would want a Superclasico in the final. That would be amazing, but that’s not our plan,” Marsch said. “A really hard fought game, big credit to Chivas to get an edge in their game at home, but now the responsibility falls on us to go back to our place and do everything we can to find a way to emerge.
“It will take everything we have. It will take a great performance, us being on top of all the little things, all of the details, because if we give up one goal, we make it very difficult on ourselves. We’ll regroup, recharge and be ready for leg two. It will be a really exciting event. “