The Red Bulls came into last night’s CONCACAF Champions league game off a 4-3 defeat in their latest MLS game against Orlando SC after coach Jesse Marsch rested the majority of his starters to focus on the semi-finals of the CCL.
Chivas were no different, with coach Almeyda resting their key players against Morelia the week prior, and grinded out a 2-1 victory over Morelia. Both coaches have stated their commitment to the CCL, and it made for an interesting fixture to say the least.
From the first half, everyone could see the game-plan the Red Bulls had was to be physically aggressive against the smaller Chivas players.
On the other hand, Chivas’s game-plan was the usual ball possession, quick passes to find space, and try to avoid the physicality of the Red Bulls. Chivas game-plan was working, especially on the counter attack when the Red Bulls would push forward as the faster Pulido, Brizuela, and Pizzaro made the Red Bulls back-line of 5 look slow, out of form, and old.
I don’t blame the Red Bulls because Chivas were making them pay for being aggressive. Pulido rushed down and was played in the middle by a great pass by Jesus Godinez on the left side, setting up a great chance for Chivas in the 23rd minute. But the NY goalkeeper and captain Robles saved it and kept it out of the left side of the net by diving and pushing it out of bounds for a Chivas corner. Then, not even two minutes later, Pizzaro stole the ball, gunned it down field and played in a beautiful through ball to Isaac Brizuela that put El Rebaño Sagrado up one goal in the first half.
After the second half, not much changed except the physicality turned from aggressive to a wrestling match with both sides being guilty. The Red Bulls did over exaggerate a bit when Chivas right back Carlos Cisneros touched the ball with his hand and were begging for a penalty kick. To be fair though, in slow motion his hand was oddly extended, but no matter the case, the penalty wasn’t called.
Not surprisingly, Chivas dominated in possession and their transition defense wasn’t as bad as it usual is. As for Red Bulls, when defender Collins was thrown out with a second yellow and red card in the 73rd minute, they left much to be desired, especially on the technical part of the game.
The Red Bulls were trying their hardest to find an opportunity to get back into the game, and it came from a misplaced ball by Chivas defender Jair Pereira in the 78th minute,. The defender had played well up until that point and gave the ball away to a in stride Bradley Wright-Phillips with nobody but the Chivas keeper Cota to beat. Cota rushed out, made himself big, and deflected the ball out.
Overall, a big win for Chivas. The game for the second leg is still wide open, but Chivas travel well in the U.S and it will feel like a home game for them.
Red Bulls, on the other hand, lose one of their best and competent defenders in Collins for the second leg and lose their forward Alex Muyl with a scary head injury. That’s coming off the loss of their defender Kyle Duncan with a torn ACL injury against Orlando SC this past week. Things aren’t going well for the Red Bulls with these injuries, but they still have another game to prove themselves. At the moment though, Chivas are in the driver’s seat.
What did you think of the game? Are Chivas in control heading into the second leg in new York?