NYCFC players celebrate Alex Callens’ first-half goal. (Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY)
HARRISON, N.J. — Despite getting very little support from their fans at Red Bull Arena, New York City FC recorded a 1-0 win over AD San Carlos to reach the quarterfinals of the Concacaf Champions League on Wednesday night.
NYCFC, in its first year participating the competition, won the aggregate-goals Round of 16 series, 6-3, after recording a 5-3 victory in Costa Rica last Thursday.
Many City supporters did not show up for the match at the ground of their rivals, the Red Bulls, protesting the fact their team could not host the game in their own city. Yankee Stadium, a baseball park, was deemed unplayable and there were not other suitable stadiums at which to play.
The crowd was announced as 4,396.
The upper deck was not open as most of the fans sat in sections behind the north goal and the east end of the stadium.
While low in numbers, those supporters made up for it with their enthusiasm, especially in the early going when they sarcastically chanted, “Let’s go Red Bulls!”
NYCFC will meet the winner of the Alizana (El Salvador)-Tigres (Mexico) match next month. The first leg is set for March 10-12, the return leg March 17-19. The venue for that round will be announced in the near future.
The hosts dominated a good portion of the match, but could not solve the San Carlos defense for more than a goal.
Center back Alex Callens picked up where he left off in the first leg by connecting off a Alexandru Mitrita corner kick in the 41st minute. Mitrita looped an in-swinger into the area as Callens hit a glancing header from four yards one bounce into the far right corner of the net past goalkeeper Patrick Pemberton for a 1-0 lead.
As it turned out, the same combination also struck in the eighth minute as Callens headed a Mitrita corner off the right post.
With the game all but over, San Carlos defender Pablo Arboine caused some excitement in the 81st minute when he tripped an onrushing Gary Mackay-Steven in front of the NYCFC bench. An incensed NYCFC head coach Ronny Deila pushed Arboine and said something to the offending player as well. Both benches emptied on the sideline, but nothing more transpired.
Arboine and Deila received yellow cards.