Bradley Wright-Phillips scored the Red Bulls’ first goal in the 54th minute. (Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports)
By Michael Lewis
HARRISON, N.J. — For the second consecutive year, the Red Bulls are going to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.
Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sean Davis tallied in the second half to lift New York to a 2-0 victory over Olimpia in the second leg of its Round of 16 series at rainy Red Bull Arena Thursday night.
The Red Bulls will play Tijuana (Mexico) in the first leg of the quarters next week.
Last year New York reached the quarterfinals before Vancouver Whitecaps FC eliminated the team.
“We are still not at our sharpest yet, but we were able to command the game like we often do,” Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch said. “We were not able to capitalize on moments, but you still felt like that game was pretty much in control the whole time. A few difficult moments, but I thought that our organization, our discipline, our compactness made it difficult for them to find the game and I thought overall we managed the game well.”
Wright-Phillips took advantage of an Olimpia turnover, running down the left flank before drilling a 24-yard shot past goalkeeper Donis Escober in the 54th minute.
Ten minutes later, Davis gave the Red Bulls some breathing room. Tyler Adams passed from the right side to the Davis, who fired a 26-yard shot off that ricocheted off an Olimpia defender and into the net for a 2-0 advantage.
Goalkeeper Luis Robles was outstanding, holding down the fort in the Red Bulls’ fourth CCL victory in 14 CONCACAF victories.
“I was impressed we didn’t concede a goal,” Wright-Phillips said. “The defense was disciplined tonight. There was one or two shaky moments but overall it was a good performance against a good team.”
Marsch didn’t dress veteran midfielder Felipe, amid a report that he could be traded to Vancouver for former St. John’s standout defender Tim Parker.
Desperately needing an away goal to take the lead, Olimpia forced the issue in the opening 15 minutes. However, the Honduran side could not find a way to put any quality chances on net.
After surviving the early minute, the Red Bulls found themselves and penetrated deep into their foes’ end as Daniel Royer forced Escober to make a save on his point-blank shot in the 15th minute.
The hosts continued to attack as a long free kick by midfielder Marc Rzatkowski from the right side, forced Escober to make a two-handed save in the 24th minute.
Rzatkowski, making his RBA debut in his second game as a Red Bull, put in an impressive first half with his pressure and workrate.
Four minutes later, Wright-Phillips got even closer with a sliding shot that Escober managed to knock away.
Robles finally was tested in the 34th minute, when midfielder Michael Chironis raced in 1 v 1 on the keeper, who made a fabulous save to keep the game scoreless.
Only five minutes after BWP scored, Robles made another vital stop, denying Chrionos on the left side. The rebound went to Diego Reyes, who fired his shot wide right with Robles on the ground.
Robles was up to the task in the 81st minute, parrying away Chrionos’ shot.