To advance in the CONCACAF Champions League the Red Bulls must score on the road.
The Red Bulls tied 1-1 at home against the Vancouver Whitecaps in the first leg of the team's maiden voyage in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.
Kekuta Manneh scored the first goal of the match, heading in a goal off defender Justin Bilyeu. Manneh was loosely marked allowing a clear header on goal, with the deflection certainly not helping matters.
Immediately to start the second half, the Red Bulls drew a penalty after Daniel Royer was brought down in the box following a corner kick. Sacha Kljestan elected to take a soft penalty in an attempt to fool Vancouver's keeper, but it was saved and the rebound was sent over the bar.
Bradley Wright-Phillips got the Red Bulls on the board in the 62nd minute, however. The prolific striker found the ball in a crowded box, facing the goal. What came next most Red Bulls fans could easily foresee, a quality goal from one of league's best strikers.
Vancouver saw a man sent off in the 71st minute after Cristian Techera saw a straight red card from a dangerous tackle on Sal Zizzo.
Both teams looked out of sync for much of the match, which is understandable given that it is MLS preseason. Play perked up for the Red Bulls in the final fifteen minutes, as the home side tried to take advantage of being up a man. The Red Bulls earned quite a few corners in the dying minutes, and appeals for a handball in the box during stoppage time fell on deaf ears.
The Red Bulls' press was not as dangerous as last year, and the team wasted opportunities throughout the match, making one extra pass or dribbling too long. Even though it is still preseason for the Red Bulls, this is still a knockout round of a continental tournament.
Before the match head coach Jesse Marsch said he and the team don't feel "totally prepared," ahead of one of the biggest matches in club history. While the candidness is refreshing, it does not change the fact that the Red Bulls could have planned better in preseason. The easy draw against another MLS team in the Whitecaps was known well before the 2016 season ended, as were the range of dates for the matches. The Red Bulls went to Arizona twice for preseason, playing multiple MLS teams in a schedule that was not fully finalized until midway through preseason.
Marsch said during preseason that the preparation the club undertook would have been the same had the Red Bulls been matched up with a Mexican club in the quarterfinals. Lucky for them, their opponents were a shorthanded Whitecaps squad.
Away form plagued the 2016 squad all season, although the team managed to win 1-0 in Vancouver midway through the season. That score line would allow the Red Bulls to move on.
To advance the Red Bulls must either tie the Whitecaps scoring one away goal or more, or secure an outright win on the road. Vancouver hosts the second leg of the CCL tie on March 2.