The New York Red Bulls did what has become a habit of theirs by winning at home, and with a 3-0 victory over the Columbus Crew on Sunday were able to overcome a first-leg deficit and advance to the Eastern Conference final.
The Red Bulls’ 3-1 aggregate victory secured a showdown against Atlanta United in the East finals, with the first leg set for November 25 at Mercedes Benz Stadium. The second leg is set for Red Bull Arena on November 29.
The Red Bulls got started quickly on Sunday, and after a few chances got the game’s opening goal in the 17th minute to even the series. Sean Davis sent the long free kick to the far post, with Daniel Royer waiting for it. From there, the midfielder passed to Aaron Long in front of goal, with Alex Muyl getting a final touch on Long’s shot before the ball found its way in the back of the net.
Momentum was with the hosts for a majority of the first half, as they forced the Crew defense to put out fire after fire. Goalkeeper Zack Steffen almost paid for a misplaced pass midway through the first half, but managed to save Tyler Adams’s shot in time. The Crew managed some opportunities of their own in the first half, though were effectively out-pressed by the Red Bulls at half’s end.
The Red Bulls still needed another goal to take control of the series and found it in the 73rd minute. Adams passed to Muyl at the edge of the penalty area, and he eventually sent the ball to Royer in front of goal. The Austrian scored his first playoff goal.
Three minutes later, Royer scored again, effectively sending the Red Bulls to the next round. Kaku’s pass from distance found the winger, who took a shot from outside the penalty area and completed his brace. The Red Bulls were easily able to hold on for the victory, and their first trip to the Eastern Conference finals since 2015.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Royer was impactful on all three goals, and was a general force to be reckoned with as the Red Bulls spent long stretches of the match testing the Crew back line.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
When the second half was at its calmest, the Red Bulls got their go-ahead goal to change the momentum. Muyl’s smart pass to Adams eventually resulted in Royer’s first of the night, and the energy carried on for the final goal of the game.
MATCH TO FORGET
Zack Steffen may have earned the Goalkeeper of the Year award this year, but did not impress on Royer’s goals. When the series was still hanging in the balance, he seemed unprepared to deal with the Red Bulls attack as the tie was lost in those few minutes.