The New York Red Bulls tied CD Olimpia, 1-1, in the first leg of CONCACAF Champions League on Thursday, February 22.
Here are five things we learned from the opening match of the series:
1. Mission Accomplished
Win your home matches, and tie the road games. Especially in Champions League.
Heading down to Central America against a red-hot Honduran team is never an easy task, but New York managed to score a road goal and take the advantage into the second leg.
“The way the tournament is set up, [it’s] always difficult for MLS teams,” head coach Jesse Marsch said. “I think overall a 1-1 result is pretty fair, and we feel good about that going back to Red Bull Arena.”
- TICKETS: Leg 2 on March 1 at Red Bull Arena
2. Tale of Two Halves
“I thought in the first half we played quite well, controlled most of the half, and then you give big credit to Olimpia because in the second half they really raised their game,” Marsch said.
New York struck first via Daniel Royer, keeping consistent pressure on their opponent in the first half.
Throughout the match, the Red Bulls “had chances to maybe make it 2-0” but ultimately Olimpia bounced back with an equalizer in a strong second-half display.
“Big credit to Olimpia because in the second half they really raised their game, they started to possess the ball a little bit more and create a few more chances,” Marsch said.
3. Physicality Will Factor in Second Leg
The Red Bulls and Olimpia combined for six yellow cards and more than 40 fouls in the first leg of the series.
Goal scorer Daniel Royer described the physicality on the pitch as “dirty,” but recognized they now “know them better.”
“It’s tough because they’re pretty savvy,” Royer said. “Now we know them better and that’s good. We’re looking forward to having them at Red Bull Arena.”
4. Shaking the Rust Off
Facing an opponent in midseason form is no easy task, especially when it’s your first official competition of the season.
Marsch admitted “game fitness caught up with us” resulting in a “pretty slow” second half, but said there’s no excuses.
“the way the tournament is set up, always difficult for MLS teams…too bad,” Marsch said. “we’ll be stronger, and fitter, and more prepared for the game once we get back home.”
5. All to Play For at Red Bull Arena
New York heads into the Second Leg on March 1 with an advantage, thanks to an all-important road goal.
However, Marsch’s side knows well that it will be a battle.
“At halftime it’s even, and we’re going to go back home and find a way to emerge,” Marsch said. “I know we’re not at our sharpest right now, or at our best, but certainly now looking forward to the leg back home, we’ll have control of the game, we always do at Red Bull Arena, and it will be important for us to capitalize on advantages that we have.”