New York Red Bulls
Image Courtesy of Riley Lorenz

Red Bulls survive penalty kicks to defeat longtime rival

The New York Red Bulls hosted longtime rivals ,the New England Revolution, in their Leagues Cup opener on Saturday night. Typically, a game of this magnitude would call for a packed stadium, however European clubs Manchester United and Arsenal played at MetLife Stadium hours prior. Therefore, many chose to attend the other game, but the stadium presence was still felt. In fact, one can argue they played the most crucial role in the outcomes of hard-fought contests. 

The Red Bulls had ample opportunities throughout the game to capitalize on their shots on goal, they couldn’t find a bounce to go their way. The game ended in a tie, resulting in penalty kicks for both teams. Ultimately, the Red Bulls managed to advance 4-2 on penalties to secure the victory, 0-0

“I've been talking about a complete performance from the group for a few of our media get-togethers and even though we don't score a goal in the 90 minutes, that ultimately would be the complete performance because you win it during the regulation,” Red Bulls head coach Troy Lesesne stated in the post-game conference. “I have to say the way that we invested throughout 90 minutes and the way that we pressed them and made them uncomfortable was really, really impressive.”

“… You absolutely want to come away from that and not feel dejected kind of like we did against Cincinnati this was this was a very good performance against them but then you feel let down because you don't you don't win in the penalty shootout,” he continues. “So on the night just to be able to complete those two, I think that was really important to gain momentum going into the next match.”

Significance of Leagues Cup for Red Bulls

The Red Bulls could benefit greatly from the Leagues Cup tournament because it can assure them a playoff spot despite their struggles of inconsistency this season. The tournament consists of multiple groups of three teams. Next, two of the three teams will qualify for the next round, which will become the knockout round. Then, the remaining three teams will assure spots in the MLS Cup playoffs.

At the moment, the Red Bulls are ranked No. 11 in the standings. Unfortunately, the top nine advance to the playoffs, making this a great opportunity for the Red Bulls to secure a spot when they may not have necessarily deserved it.

“Yeah, I said, you know, at the beginning of this week, I said to the group that we need to look at this time period, not as a break from the MLS regular season and not even use that word break,” Lesesne stated. “And look at it a different way to say how are we going to come out of this competition to build momentum to get into a better position within the league.”

Missed Opportunities Lead to Satisfying Ending 

Throughout the season, the Red Bulls have struggled to capitalize on opportunities that can lead to points. Saturday night, it appeared to be no different, as they managed to close the game strong resulting in a victory. Despite the Red Bulls struggling to play a complete game, some believe the Red Bulls are a sleeping giant within the MLS. Therefore, defeating one of the better teams in the league within weeks of each other only further confirms that theory. 

“And so I think tonight was a major step in the right direction not only because we win the penalty shootout and we get the extra point but really because of the 90 minutes of what we put together against a really quality side,” Lesesne stated.

At the end of regulation, the penalty kicks always can go in favor of either opponent. Initially, the Red Bulls appeared to be in trouble as they trailed 2-1, however great anticipation from Red Bulls goalkeeper Carlos Coronel helped earn them an extra possession. Not to mention, the Red Bulls had a little bit of luck having one of the Revolution’s kicks hit off the goalpost. The Red Bulls managed to prevail with a walk-off goal by Red Bulls defender John Tolkin

What’s Next for the Red Bulls?

On Sunday July, 30, the Red Bulls are set to host San Luis to advance to the knockout round of the Leagues Cup.