The New York Red Bulls are out of yet another knockout competition. Thursday night’s 2-0 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place ended the Red Bull’s regional hopes. On the eve of the MLS season, the Red Bulls look to have many of the same deficiencies they ended the season with in 2016.
Red Bulls Drop CCL Series To Whitecaps
Alfonso Davies goal in the fifth minute of play allowed for New York to start the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League tilt just as they had in Harrison. Sloppy possession in the defensive half and an error by Aurelien Collin helped Davies score the opener. New York looked out of sorts to start the match and took a while to find their legs.
The Red Bulls seemed to be lifted after Gonzalo Veron left injured. The third year DP left the field after slamming his hands against the turf in frustration. Veron’s injury before the MLS season closely mimics his troubles in 2016, and Red Bull fans will surely be wringing their hands.
Despite the poor start, the Red Bulls finished the half well. Once again, they dominated possession and once again had trouble putting shots on the net. They held 64% possession, managing two shots in total with one on net. Vancouver, ahead on aggregate, was happy to sit back and protect their series lead. Their offense relied on quick counter attacks. If not for the heroics in net of Louis Robles, the Whitecaps would have added to their lead and put the series to rest.
The Red Bulls shifted back to the familiar 4-2-3-1 to start the second half. The move put Kljestan back into his most dangerous spot on the field. NY continued to attack well, though sloppy final passes kept them off the score sheet. By the 70th minute, the look of frustration had crept into the faces of Red Bull players.
With NY unable to find an equalizer, the door was open for Vancouver to add to their lead. They did so in the 77th minute on a goal from Fredy Montero. Montero scored on his debut match against NY for the second time in MLS history. He opened his MLS account in 2009 against the Red Bulls during his tenure with Seattle Sounders. Montero nearly doubled his tally in stoppage time.
Despite the continued searching to find a plan B, the Red Bulls find themselves in very familiar territory. Teams can still rely on the bunker and counter strategy that has been so successful against the team in recent years. The loss is just another in a long string of failures in big game situations for the club. Having crashed out of the playoffs under similar circumstances last season, it is not the type of momentum a team wants to carry them into the season.