The message to the team at halftime is the same message following the match.
“We're not satisfied,” Head Coach Troy Lesesne said.
The New York Red Bulls smashed their way to a 5-2 victory in the Wild Card match at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday night, and set themselves up for a showdown against the Supporters’ Shield winners, FC Cincinnati in the Round One Best-of-3 Series in the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Elias Manoel scored three times, netting just the sixth hat trick in MLS postseason history. John Tolkin scored a stunning free kick and Tom Barlow finished off a beautiful build up play as New York led by three at halftime and hung a crooked number on the team from the Queen City.
“I don't think it's attributed to anything other than individuals stepping up in a big moment for us,” Lesesne said. “We needed that all year, by the way, so it's good to see in the playoffs.”
New York opened the scoring ten minutes in, after midfielder Daniel Edelman lifted a ball over the Charlotte defense and found forward Elias Manoel, who took a touch and found the back of the net for an early lead.
“Elias is absolutely hitting form,” Lesesne said.
The Red Bulls doubled their advantage in the 26th minute, when Tolkin placed a perfect free kick over the Charlotte wall and into the top corner.
“This free kick is just special, this has nothing to do with coaching,” Lesesne said. “JMi, agai,n stepping up and creating a big moment.”
New York took a three goal lead in the 37th minute after Tolkin found Manoel in the box, who curled a shot around the Charlotte goalkeeper to secure his brace.
“The second goal actually I dreamt about last night,” Manoel said. “The way the ball was curving, that was exactly my dream.”
Tolkin played another ball into the middle of the box, this time finding Barlow, who placed a shot to the far post to regain a three goal lead. New York’s fifth and final goal would be the third of the match from Manoel, who received a pass from Luquinhas and buried one past the Charlotte goalkeeper.
“[Elias] has done a tremendous job coming in, really growing into the team and figuring out our style of play and what he needs to do,” Barlow said. “He's a great guy, and he's really putting in a lot of extra work, and you can see it paying off, so I'm really happy for him.”
Elias’ hat trick was the first in the playoffs in club history. The five goals tonight from New York are the most scored in a playoff game by the club in franchise history.
“We’re gelling really well with stuff we've been working on quite a bit, getting out in transition and trying to put teams away,” Barlow said. “We just have to keep that momentum going into Cincinnati.”
New York now advance to Round One of the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs and are set to face FC Cincinnati on Sunday, October 29 at TQL Stadium with a kickoff time set for 8 p.m. ET.
New York topped Cincy 2-1 back on October 1.
“We played them a couple weeks ago and they're obviously a great team, had a great year, so we're going to throw everything we got at them,” Barlow said. “Expecting a good hard-fought game, but it should be fun.”
- New York has locked in one more home match for the second match of the Best-of-3 series on November 4 at 7 PM ET. Tickets are on sale now.