New York Red Bulls Make History in CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals Triumph Over Tijuana

Photo by Bill Twomey

HARRISON, N.J. (March 13, 2018) – What the New York Red Bulls did to Club Tijuana over the last eight days has never been seen before. The two legs of this CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal match-up have yielded unprecedented results. First, a 2-0 win in Tijuana, and a 3-1 win Tuesday night at Red Bull Arena. With Toronto FC‘s away goals victory over another Liga MX side, Tigres UNAL, MLS teams are making waves internationally like never before. None more than the New York Red Bulls.

New York Red Bulls Make History in CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals Triumph Over Tijuana

The Team

The composure and confidence the Red Bulls showed in both legs against Tijuana is impressive. The club has a history of showing up scared in important games, but this year’s squad looks ready to prove something.

It’s only the very beginning of the 2018 season, but maybe they already have. The Red Bulls punched their ticket to the Champions League semi-finals for the first time in franchise history..

“We talked a little bit about standing up tall even when we got hit early, sticking together and finding a way, as the game went on, to absolutely know we weren’t going to lose,” Jesse Marsch said regarding his comments to the team after the game. 

This is a team that fans are learning about as time goes on. They are determining that depth players can contribute and that Academy and USL products can be integral in the squad. In the past two games, Tijuana and Portland, Marsch has utilized to entirely different lineups, but each time the roster consisted of multiple young homegrown players and local talent, with a sprinkling of international flare.

Tyler Adams

The team has already shown experience and composure beyond their years. Tyler Adams is the embodiment of that. “For whatever reason, he’s this old soul, and he’s figured out how to manage this world. It’s going to continue to reward him,” Marsch said of his young leader. The 19-year-old looked like a seasoned veteran against Tijuana. He was all over the field, disrupting plays in the back and springing the attack out front, deserving his Man of the Match award. Arguably more impressive was his ability to lead the team’s mentality.

“A couple of guys you could see were grabbing the team by the neck a little bit and saying alright, come on, let’s keep moving. One of the things that’s always a source of pride is when that guy is Tyler,” Marsch elaborated. It is nothing short of remarkable to think that a player so young can be so readily relied on to lead the team, especially in a historic CONCACAF competition. Yet, this should surprise no one anymore. Tyler Adams has arrived, and he needs to be a leader on this RBNY team as he was on Tuesday.

Bigger Picture

There are a lot of “firsts” after the Red Bulls’ dismantling of the best defensive team in Liga MX.

This is the first time an MLS club has beaten a Liga MX side in both home and away legs. After the first leg, it was the first time an MLS team won in Mexico by more than a goal and just the third win south of the border in CCL history. It was the largest margin of victory ever by MLS over Liga MX. Jesse Marsch is the first MLS and American manager to defeat a Mexican side in both legs, and the list goes on.

I think it’s more a statement about our league, about our club, about our team. This is a big group effort,” said Marsch post-game when asked about his achievements. The Red Bulls were not out to forge a new path for MLS soccer internationally. Their goal in Champions League was not to make history and shock everyone. The goal was to advance. They accomplished all of that rolled into one. 

The confidence and fearlessness RBNY demonstrated by winning 2-0 in Tijuana is a milestone in itself. Translating that to a home victory to close out the series is a model MLS teams will look to for years to come.

Because of what New York was able to do this March, MLS teams will be held to a higher standard. This will help grow CONCACAF Champions League in America, and the sport as a whole.


New York is not nearly to the finish line yet, however. “We’re not done. It’s only the quarterfinals,” Marsch emphasized to his team. 

The Red Bulls will have to wait until the conclusion of the Seattle Sounders and Chivas Guadalajara quarterfinal tie to know their next CCL opponent. Either way, Jesse Marsch is confident, “We’ve got to now get ourselves back in the season and ramp ourselves up for another crazy match-up, and we’ll see what that is tomorrow night. That will be fun either way.”


  1. Two questions:

    1. Do you see the Red Bulls being a legitimate title contender this year due to their depth and explosiveness on the front foot?
    2. Why is Tyler Adams so UNDERRATED in FIFA?!

    • Thanks for the comment, Thomas. After the first few performances this season, I do see RBNY as a threat, and a major contender for MLS Cup. It seems that the roster is built for a late run, and the depth they have can keep them moving forward through injuries, etc.
      A lot of other teams will not be able to keep up with quick combinations from the likes of Royer, Kaku, Davis, and even Etienne Jr., Valot, Bezecourt, etc.
      One last point- Marsch can utilize many different looks, so if teams in the league “figure out” RBNY, he can play a largely different attack with confidence.

      FIFA does not fully appreciate him yet… it will be hard after the 2018 he is expected to have, though.