Bradley Wright-Phillips set up Daniel Royer’s first goal. (Noah K. Murray — USA TODAY Sports)
VANCOUVER — Despite playing the waning minutes of the match a man down, the Red Bulls managed to pull out a 2-2 draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC Saturday night.
Daniel Royer scored his second goal of the night in the 90th minute to give New York a precious road point. Costa Rican international defender Kendall Waston also finished with a brace for Vancouver (9-9-7, 34)
The result boosted the Red Bulls (15-6-3) into first-place past Atlanta United FC (14-4-6) in the Eastern Conference with 48 points apiece. Both teams have a plus 22 goal differential, but the Red Bulls have more wins in the MLS tie-breaker.
Atlanta can regain the lead with at least a draw against Columbus Crew SC Sunday at 4 p.m.
“It’s a strange one because we thought in many ways we controlled the game in the first half, especially coming right before halftime giving up the set piece goal,” Red Bulls head coach Chris Armas said. “It’s disappointing for sure. But we’re still ok. They’re dangerous on set pieces, they’ve always been with [Kendall] Waston. We give them a lot of credit. We knew coming in that’d be a difficult challenge. But look, it’s always a challenge, set pieces with Vancouver.”
Royer, who has tallied five goals in his last five matches, connected on his dramatic goal after Michael Murillo was given his marching orders for collecting his second yellow card at B.C. Place for a foul on Alphonso Davies in the 84th minute.
With Kaku and Sean Davis already pulled for second-half substitutions, 19-year-old midfielder Tyler Adams was called on to take a free kick for the visitors. The Wappingers Falls, N.Y. native placed a perfect ball for an onrushing Royer, who volleyed the ball home at the far right post past goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic for the equalizer and his 10th goal of the season.
Royer also had the first word of the match in the fifth minute to lift the Red Bulls into a 1-0 lead. Tyler Adams started the scoring sequence with a long ball down the right flank to Bradley Wright-Phillips. The striker raced into the penalty area and sent a perfect feed to the streaking Royer, who slotted it home past Marinovic.
While the Red Bulls enjoyed the better chances and more possession of the ball, the hosts managed to equalize against the run of play. Waston beat former Vancouver center back Tim Parker on Yordy Reyna’s corner kick to head the ball past goalkeeper Luis Robles in the 42nd minute for a 1-1 deadlock.
Waston victimized the Red Bulls yet again with another goal off a corner on the hour. This time former Red Bulls midfielder Felipe looped a feed in from the left corner as Waston beat Alex Muyl at the near post for a 2-1 margin.