Columbus Crew, Red Bulls play to a Draw in MLS 2019 Opener

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Red Bulls
COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 02: Columbus Crew SC Head Coach Caleb Porter giving the thumbs up to the fans before the match between the New York Red Bulls at Columbus Crew SC at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio on March 3, 2019. (Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Columbus, Ohio. – The New York Red Bulls began the 2019 campaign at MAPFRE Stadium. They last faced the Columbus Crew in the 2018 MLS Playoffs.

Roster Depth Key to Competition

RBNY traveled from Harrison to Columbus following a midweek clash in the CONCACAF Champions League. With the next round home leg scheduled for Tuesday, the vast majority of starters remained out of the lineup. Striker Bradley Wright-Phillips did not even dress after coming off the field during the match at Red Bull Arena.

Andreas Ivan Strikes Again

The pressure was near the Red Bull goal in the opening moments of the match. But barely five minutes in, winger Andreas Ivan headed the ball home to start the scoring. Fresh off a goal in the waning minutes of the home match against C.A. Pantoja, Ivan took a cross from Florian Valot to score his first MLS goal.

The Crew was hungry for an equalizer, requiring Captain goalkeeper Luis Robles to make valuable saves. But the Red Bulls were capable of disrupting the Crew at every turn. Forcing corners and turnovers, Columbus had no rhythm in the first half. Will Trapp (31′) earned a booking, seemingly a manifestation of the team’s frustration. Gaston Sauro eventually found the leveler on a set piece in the 41st minute. They headed to the locker room with one goal apiece.

Physical, Scoreless Second Half

In the second half, Manager Chris Armas switched Long out for Tim Parker. Rather than bring out a player who usually begins games on the bench, this was an opportunity to keep the Red Bull starting centerbacks loose. Midfielder Alex Muyl joined the game with a half hour remaining, taking over for newcomer Marcus Epps. The final substitution, Sean Nealis, came relatively early for the team.

Overall, the second half involved a lot of movement for both teams. The scoreline, however, saw no change. Ivan nearly earned a brace in the 76th minute, but he was called offside and play continued. The pace slowed considerably, despite the fresh legs from Rabinho in the 79th minute. There was a brief scare for RBNY when Robles required medical attention. The second half was marked by yellow cards on both sides, a total of six for the match. Neither side let up for the remainder of the game, amping up in the five minutes of stoppage time. But the teams shared points in the season opener. After the CCL Quarterfinals, the Red Bulls host the San Jose Earthquakes in their home opener March 16.

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