• Friday Feb 24, 2017

    New York Red Bulls aim to connect in Vancouver

    New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips (white jersey) scored his first-ever Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League goal in a quarterfinal against the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps on February 22, 2017, in Harrison, New Jersey, USA. (Photo: Mexsport)

    HARRISON, New Jersey -- After playing the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, the New York Red Bulls know what they need to do in the second leg on March 2.

    “We need to score up there,” said striker Bradley Wright-Phillips.

    Last year's Major League Soccer scoring champion realized the game was not going to be easy.

    “They’re very tough to play against," Wright-Phillips commented.  "It’s going to be hard, especially at their place.  It’s going to be a toss-up [if] we’re going to get through.”

    New York enjoyed large stretches of possession in the second half Wednesday, but could only find the net once -- on Wright-Phillips' 62nd-minute goal, his first-ever in the SCCL.

    "We need to be a bit cleaner around the box," stressed the 31-year-old.  "We got into some good positions.  Maybe the cross wasn't good enough or the connection wasn't good enough.  It's our first game. Some teams are in preseason so I expect it."

    Veteran midfielder Sacha Kljestan, who recently was named team captain, had a penalty kick saved in the 47th minute that could have knotted the game at 1-1 at that juncture.  He had converted six of eight spot kicks during the regular season over the past two years.

    “I’m not lacking in confidence right now,” Kljestan remarked.  “I’m just lacking in execution tonight.”

    The Red Bulls have one more opportunity to execute their game plan in this year’s competition and get a positive result to advance to the semifinals.

    "It shapes up for another interesting game, because I think they'll be some tentativeness to both teams and some conservative approach," head coach Jesse Marsch concluded.  "The game will take some twists and turns as it moves on and it sets up for a very interesting second leg.  Certainly we're going to go there and try to put the game on our terms like we always do and go after them."

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