Adams and Valot provide calming influence
Bradley Wright-Phillips sensed his team was shaky from the start, and the result was conceding an early goal to bring Xolos back in the series, but it was the midfield duo of Tyler Adams and Florian Valot who settled the team.
Adams was rewarded with the tying goal and both players were tremendously influential in the center of the park.
“When the game was a little bit crazy in the first half, it was him and Tyler that were able to settle the game down for us,” Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch said. “I referenced that at half time. I said, ‘hey guys, if you don’t have solutions then Tyler and Flo are having a good game, they’re able to slow things down, now give them the ball and start to move off of them and you’ll find it’ll come back to you.’”
As for Adams, Wright-Phillips said he’s seen that kind of composure from only one other player in his career — Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale.
“I saw a similiar attitude,” Wright-Phillips said. “Dont get me wrong because I know you guys like to twist things. I’m not saying he’s the same player or he’s going to have the same career as him, but they both have the mentality where they know what they’re good at and they’re not afraid when they step on the field.”
Where are the fans?
It was really the only disappointment on an otherwise joyous night for the Red Bulls. It was arguably one of the biggest games in club history and yet Red Bull Arena, which holds 25,000, had just 6,393 to watch New York advance to beat a Mexican team to reach the CCL semifinals for the first time ever.
Here’s what Marsch had to say about it after the game.
“We’re hopeful as an organization that as we move forward in this tournament that the word gets out that this is a big deal and that fans start to come out a bit more, the weather starts to get a little warmer in a couple of weeks and then we can see a bigger crowd.
“But this team made history tonight. You would like to see a group of fans out to support their team in a moment like that.
“I don’t want to put that on the organization because they’ve worked tirelessly to sell tickets and to communicate with people about what this tournament means and that our team is really going to try to go after it. We’re going to get the word out in the right way the next few weeks and we’ll cross our fingers that we reach enough people to get a big crowd here.”
Storylines galore in the semifinals
The Red Bulls will meet the winner of the aggregate series between Seattle Sounders FC and Guadalajara, which Seattle leads heading into tonight’s second leg. Whether it’s Red Bulls-Seattle for a berth in the final or Red Bulls-Guadalajara, it should be scintillating.
“That will be fun either way,” Marsch said. “Imagine going to Seattle in a full house there or down at Guadalajara with my old friends with Chivas.”