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New York Red Bulls Open Champions League Campaign with 3-0 Win Over Antigua GFC

(Photo by Catalina Fragoso - Double G Media)

(Photo by Catalina Fragoso – Double G Media)


The New York Red Bulls played their first match in the CONCACAF Champions League in two years when they hosted Antigua Guatemala FC on Wednesday, August 3. The Red Bulls beat the visitors 3-0 in their return to the continental competition, through an own goal and a goal from Alex Muyl and Sacha Kljestan each.

Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch started a mix of regular first team players with some who spend most of their time on the bench. Kemar Lawrence came back from the groin injury that kept him out of the majority of Jamaica’s Copa América Centenario campaign, while Tyler Adams and Shaun Wright-Phillips made the jump from the bench to the starting lineup. Sean Davis, as he did against Chicago over the weekend, replaced the injured Dax McCarty, who will be sidelined for 4-6 weeks with a tibia fracture, while Luis Robles was replaced by Ryan Meara for the night. In total, three homegrown players started for the Red Bulls; with Connor Lade and Derrick Etienne coming on as substitutes, five homegrowns in total played.

The Red Bulls were clearly the better team on the field, dominating possession and play. Antigua goalkeeper Cristian Alvarez was kept busy, but very early on, he was picking the ball up out of the back of his net. The Red Bulls won a corner 16 minutes in, which Muyl took. The midfielder sent the ball near goal, and Antigua’s Alejandro Galindo, in an attempt to send the ball away, instead turned it into his own net, and New York were up 1-0.

Things went from bad to worse for the Guatemalan side when, ten minutes later, Sixto Betancourt committed a studs-up challenge on Felipe and was promptly sent off by referee Javier Andres Santos Escobar. Antigua GFC were very physical all night, managing multiple fouls and even leaving Red Bulls defender Aurélien Collin with a black eye. Davis, though, thought the referee did his job to limit the aggression. “It’s a thankless job out there for referees these days, but I thought he did a good job of controlling the match and taking care of it early on,” Davis said after the match.

Despite the man advantage, the Red Bulls had difficulty scoring the second goal until the 62nd minute, when Muyl worked his way around a defender and the goalkeeper to score from close range. The midfielder went off to celebrate with his teammates, leaving the Antigua defense clearly exhausted.

The Red Bulls’ final goal came in the 79th minute, when Kljestan scored a minute after being substituted on for Adams. Kljestan made a deep run from the center of the park to the edge of the penalty area, where he passed to Verón. Kljestan himself got in a good position when Verón found him, and the American scored from close range to clinch the win for his team.

New York next heads to Los Angeles on Sunday, August 7, in MLS play. Their next match in the CONCACAF Champions League comes on Tuesday, August 16, when they head to Alianza FC in El Salvador.

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Pardeep is the New York Red Bulls Beat Writer for while also covering other soccer teams and events.
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