And the New York Red Bulls victory over Club Tijuana at Estadio Caliente had historical significance when they became the first MLS team to win a match in Mexico in the knockout stages of the Concacaf Champions League.
But Jesse Marsch thinks Saturday night’s 3-0 win over FC Dallas in front of an announced crowd of 20,827 might be the best one at Red Bull Arena this year.
That’s because the Red Bulls bossed an FC Dallas team that came to Harrison with just one loss on the season — ironically coming on their other trip to New York in late April — despite playing with 10 men for most of the match.
“What it was was a show of our character,” Marsch said. “We talk a lot around here about our style of play and our tactics and all the different things that we try to be about from a soccer, technical perspective. But this was more to do about the character of the group and their commitment and their mentality and their will on the day to play for each other and do whatever it was going to take.”
The Red Bulls, who beat FC Dallas, 4-0, in their last trip to Red Bull Arena in 2016, have lost just once in their last nine league games, while Dallas (8-2-5) had a seven-match undefeated streak snapped.
“Going a man down and then winning 3-0 against a team that has only one loss in the league it’s big-time for sure and it’s a good confidence boost for us,” defender Aaron Long said.
The Red Bulls (9-4-2) took the lead in the 23rd minute on Bradley Wright-Phillips’ 11th goal of the season.
“That’s how we like the game to look — chaotic, but with a plan,” Wright-Phillips said. “It was bouncing around, we won I think a 50-50 and Tyler breaks through with his pace and makes a great play. I didn’t have to do much.”
As a result, Oscar Pareja made his first change in the 32nd minute with Michael Barrios replacing Acosta. It was a tactical change to bring on an additional forward for a midfielder, but one that clearly didn’t sit well with Acosta who angrily walked straight down the tunnel after coming off instead of sitting on the substitute’s bench.
“It’s normal. Kellyn gives his heart for this team and has grown here,” Pareja said. “I know the pain he has and the frustration of not being able to help in the moment, but Kellyn is fine.”
That goal was also reviewed, but it was determined that an offside Wright-Philips didn’t interfere with the scoring sequence.
“Yeah, great ball in from Sean, held off the defender and lucky to get a foot on it,” Long said.
Kemar Lawrence tacked onto the Red Bulls lead three minutes into the second half on his first goal of the season. Referee Robert Sibiga played advantage after Wright-Phillips was fouled in the midfield and Kaku slipped a pass to his left where Lawrence beat Gonzalez near post with an angled attempt.
“Kemar is a guy that has a great mentality, who works for the team always, is an incredible defender, takes so much pride in defending and not giving up goals and not losing duels and not losing one-on-ones,” Marsch said. “So, it’s nice for a guy like him to get rewarded for some other things so that people can appreciate more of the things that he’s really good at.”
Listen: New York Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch’s post-match press conference below