It might not have been a cold rainy night in Stoke, but Santos Laguna was able to get two critical away goals on a frigid night in New Jersey against the New York Red Bulls in the first leg of the 2019 Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals.
Red Bull came out in their high pressing defense, throwing Santos Laguna off of their game early. Red Bull would force a corner early when a pass forward from Jonathan Orozco wasn’t cleared out fast enough. In the third minute, the press would create another turnover, this time allowing a through ball to Bradley Wright-Phillips, whose shot was pushed wide by Jona Orozco.
Santos was able to adjust to the tempo presented, and got a good chance in the ninth minute on a counterattack, however Julio Furch’s shot was stopped by Red Bull goalkeeper Luis Robles. The play would be back and forth, however neither team could really seem to connect with the final ball in the first quarter hour. In the 19th, Javier Correa would rip a shot from about 25 yards wide that went just wide of Robles’ net.
In the 25th, Santos would give Red Bull a taste of their own medicine, pressing and getting Furch through on the counterattack, but Furch’s hard-angle shot went just wide of a beaten Robles.
In the 34th, Red Bull almost got one on a counterattack, but Jona Orozco made the sprawling save to keep the match scoreless.
Santos kept attacking down their left flank, going for Red Bull right back Kyle Duncan, who had only played five games for the club in his career. Marlos Moreno was often the target of long passes from the back trying to put him through.
In the 41st minute, Diego Valdés get on the end of a fantastic pass from Furch and put Santos up by one going into the break.
Santos would double their lead in the 47th minute when Julio Furch would get on the end of an unbelievable pass from Javier Correa to double Los Guerreros’ lead.
Things got chippy in the 60th minute, when Alex Muyl and Eduardo Aguirre clashed heads and the sides met at midfield with pushing and shoving. Both players were issued yellow cards for their troubles.
Red Bull tried to press, but often got caught too far up field and Santos was able to counterattack. Julio Furch and Brian Lozano would exploit this, hitting shots and forcing Roblese to make saves.
In the 68th minute, Red Bulls tenacity would almost pay off. They moved the ball well and finally found Connor Lade with plenty of space, but his shot went well wide of the net. In the 89th minute, Jona Orozco was called again to bail out his team when Bradley Wright-Phillips hit a shot from close range. A minute later he’d stop Derrick Etienne, Jr. on a point blank shot in the box.
Santos heads to Veracruz to face Tiburones Rojos on Friday before hosting Red Bulls next Tuesday. Red Bulls will be well rested, having the weekend off from MLS play.
New York Red Bulls: Luis Robles; Connor Lade, Tim Parker, Aaron Long, Kyle Duncan; Daniel Royer (Derrick Etienne, Jr. 77’), Sean Davis, Kakú, Alex Muyl (Andreas Ivan, 60’); Mark Rzatkowski; Bradley Wright-Phillips
Santos Laguna: Jonathan Orozco; Jesús Angulo, Matheus Doría, Hugo Nervo, José Abella; Marlos Moreno (Eduardo Aguirre, 46’), José Juan Vázquez, Diego Valdés (Deinner Quinoñes, 82’), Brian Lozano; Julio Furch (Ulíses Rivas, 74’), Javier Correa
Scoring: New York Red Bulls - None; Santos Laguna - Diego Valdés (41’), Julio Furch (47’)
Disciplinary: New York Red Bulls - Alex Muyl (Yellow - 57’), Kakú (Yellow - 60’), Marc Rzatkowski (Yellow, 80’); Santos Laguna - Marlos Moreno (Yellow, 33’), Eduardo Aguirre (Yellow, 60’)