Red Bulls celebrate Patryk Klimala’s goal. (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

By Michael Lewis Editor

Despite a short bench that included two goalkeepers and several key players missing from the Starting XI, the Red Bulls managed to pull off a win in their season opener on Saturday.

And they scored three times en route to accomplishing that feat.

Omir Fernandez snapped a tie in the 72nd minute to lift the Red Bulls to a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes at PayPal Park.

Patryk Klimala and Tom Barlow also found the net in a rare three-goal night for the visitors.

Fernandez nutmegged goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski on the left side of the area for a 2-1 edge in the 72nd minute. Frankie Amaya’s takeaway at midfield started the scoring sequence. He chipped the ball to Fernandez, who did his thing.

True, the Quakes will never be confused with Barcelona or Manchester City. The hosts failed to reach the MLS Cup playoffs last season, but a win is a win as they Red Bulls flew home with three road points in their back pockets.

Due to four key absences Red Bulls head coach Gerard Struber was forced to use several players out of position. Andres Reyes and Wiki Carmona have foot injuries and Luquinhas and Tom Edwards don’t have their visas.

Newly acquired Lewis Morgan was used as a wing back and Dylan Nealis as a center back. Dylan played together with his brother Sean – they’re both from Massapequa, N.Y. – as one of three central defenders, along with captain Aaron Long.

Somehow, it all worked out.

In the first half, the Quakes enjoyed a decided possession advantage, 64-36. But keeping the ball and putting into the back of the net are two separate issues.

San Jose, however, could not do anything significant.

On the other hand, the Red Bulls outshot the hosts, 12-5, and most importantly found the net in stoppage time to grab a 1-0 lead.

Fernandez passed to Morgan on the right flank. The former Inter Miami CF winger crossed into the area to Patryk Klimala, who slipped the ball past Marcinkowski from close range a minute into injury time.

For a good portion of a frustrating opening half, the Red Bulls could not find the handle, either shooting over the bar or right at Marcinkowski.

The Quakes equalized in the 69th minute. With his back to the net, Javier Lopez headed home Cristian Espinoza’s free kick from the left side past lgoalkeeper Carlos Coronel for a 1-1 deadlock.

After Fernandez tallied, a pair of second-half subs teamed together for the insurance goal. On a counterattack, Barlow slotted home Caden Clark’s pass two minutes into second-half stoppage time.

Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at