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New York Red Bulls shock early, late in CCL exit match

New York Red Bulls head coach Chris Armas says he's proud of team despite Concacaf Champions League demise. (Greg Bartram/USA TODAY Sports)

Here are three things we learned from the New York Red Bulls 4-2 loss to Santos Laguna in the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals Tuesday night at Estadio Corona.

What a start

Few gave the Red Bulls a chance after losing 2-0 at Red Bull Arena in the first leg. A comeback would mean scoring multiple goals in Mexico, which they did in the first leg of the quarterfinals a year ago, but now it had to be done against a team that had a distinct advantage.

Yet, there they were shocking the world with an inspired two-goal effort in the opening nine minutes.

“I’m proud of the guys for that for sure,” Red Bulls coach Chris Armas said. “It was a hard place to play, it was warm, it was at altitude, but exactly what we were looking for — a team that stepped on the field with courage, we were brave and they put a lot into that first half.”

What an ending

The Red Bulls conceded the fewest goals in the MLS regular season a year ago, which made seeing them leak four goals in a nine-minute span almost as shocking as the early goals to level the series.

“As defenders we have to take that on our shoulders,” Aaron Long said. “We can’t let four goals go in. It doesn’t matter who’s on the field, it doesn’t matter if its the last 15 minutes, if we have nine men. Our defenders are too good to let four goals go in so I think that’s on us.”

Lessons learned, quick turnaround

In their run to a third Supporters’ Shield title in six years, the Red Bulls last year pointed at the deep CCL run as something that was beneficial. The run wasn’t as deep, but Armas is sure the experience will help again.

“It’s another experience of what these games are like, what real games are like against the top players with different qualities,” he said. “That exposure is invaluable. We’ll take this with us and add it to our core of who we are and it will pay dividends down the stretch.”

The Red Bulls don’t have a lot of time to dwell on the defeat because their home opener against the San Jose Earthquakes is on Saturday afternoon.

“Over the next 24 hours we’re going to have to be able to process this because we’re going to have to move on,” Luis Robles said. “For a group that’s competitive and an organization that wants to be as successful as possible, it hurts. And there’s going to be disappointment. Because when we say we want to win everything and we want to be competitive in everything, there’s authenticity to those statements. For it to end the way that it did is bitter and disappointing.”

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