HARRISON, New Jersey – Is the glass half empty or half full for the Red Bulls?
On one hand, they managed to tie their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal first leg with the 10-man Vancouver Whitecaps at 1-1 at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday night.
On the other hand, they could not take advantage of their home-field advantage and pad their lead in the knockout round series heading into the March 2 second leg in Vancouver.
Striker Bradley Wright-Phillips tallied his first CCL goal to give the Red Bulls a lifeline.
The hosts played with a man advantage for the final 20 minutes after Vancouver’s Cristian Techera was red-carded for kicking defender Sal Zizzo in the groin in the 70th minute.
Vancouver grabbed a 1-0 lead in the 39th minute. Costa Rican international Kendall Waston floated in a corner kick that Kekuta Manneh headed off the body of Red Bulls defender Justin Bilyeu and into the left side of the net. It was Manneh’s first SCCL career goal.
Two minutes into the second half the Red Bulls botched a golden opportunity to equalize as defender Christian Dean tripped Daniel Royer in the penalty area on Sacha Kljestan’s corner kick.
Kljestan, who scored twice during the SCCL group stage last year, took the ensuing spot kick, but goalkeeper David Ousted, diving the wrong way, made a kick save. Wright-Phillips booted the rebound over the net.
New York, which enjoyed possession for long stretches in the second half, finally knotted things up in the 62nd minute. Overlapping on the right side, Zizzo sent a cross that hit Gonzalo Veron in the middle of the box. Wright-Phillips quickly gained possession and drilled a shot into the top right side of the goal for a 1-1 tie.
The Red Bulls had two close encounters in the opening half. Royer headed Veron’s left-wing cross just over the net in the 34th minute and Kljestan’s 20-yard free kick sailed wide left in the 45th minute.
The Whitecaps played without four key attacking players. Midfielder-forwards Yordy Reyna (foot) and Nicolas Mezquida (right hip irritation) and Costa Rican international midfielder Christian Bolanos (knee) are injured and are sidelined for a few weeks. Striker Fredy Montero is not match fit, although he is expected to play in the second leg .