Bradley Wright-Phillips had a tough night trying to score goals. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
HARRISON, N.J. — Even after going down to Santos Laguna in the home leg of their Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal series Tuesday, the Red Bulls are optimistic they can bounce back in next week’s second leg.
The Red Bulls have dug themselves a 2-0 hole before 3,508 freezing spectators at Red Bull Arena.
“It’s a tough task but it’s not anything that I don’t think this team is capable of overcoming,” team captain and goalkeeper Luis Robles said. “I know we’re going to look at the video and see how we can improve and that’s sort of the name of the game. It is the beginning of the season, there is going to be some improvements, there has to be improvement. But we also know the team is capable of big things and we’re hoping next week one of those big things is on display in Mexico and we’re able to overturn this and advance.”
It will be one hell of an uphill battle for any visiting team in the CCL in Mexico.
“Yeah, it’s always going to be tough, going there, but what we did show is that we created chances,” striker Bradley Wright-Phillips said. “If we just finished those, you know, it’s obviously a different game. So, I get confidence from that and the team has too. We know we can create chances against them right. It’s not great giving up two goals. ”
The Red Bulls will try for a rare comeback for a Major League Soccer team in Mexico when they visit Santos Laguna in the second leg Tuesday.
Head coach Chris Armas warned about trying to push too hard too soon in that match.
“Well, the way we’ll go about it is intelligently, having balance to our attacks that we have to … like tonight. One of the messages at halftime, always keeping two guys up and we can’t just start throwing everyone forward, both outside backs. So we have to have balance and a calculated approach. Certainly, the game won’t be won in the first twenty minutes from us, but it can be lost. So we’ll have to be smart in how we go about it. But I think we’ll have to remain aggressive too. That’s who we are and that’s – we’ll go there calculated, but one goal at a time.”
The Red Bulls will have a week to prepare for the match because they are not scheduled for any MLS action this weekend.
“It helps us out,” Robles said. “Especially in the beginning of the season, we have a lot of games in preseason and we’ve also started our season. The rotation has been good but you also like it when we get a full week to prepare. We know when we go down to Mexico, we’re going to need that preparation to make sure that we feel confident and yet, even if we didn’t have it, I feel very confident in this group that no matter the team, no matter the destination, wherever we’re at, we’re able to do some big things.”
Wright-Phillips had a couple of close encounters in the match, including being denied on a 1 v 1 situation by goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco in the opening minutes.
“I thought today is the best I’ve felt, from preseason, up until now,” Wright-Phillips said. “Today was a day I really did think I was going to score. So yeah, hoping for another Tijuana. I feel like I owe the team a couple of goals. So, let’s see what I can do.”