VANCOUVER, B.C - The Vancouver Whitecaps scored a crucial away goal as they earned a hard-fought 1-1 draw against the New York Red Bulls in the opening leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals. Kekuta Manneh scored a headed goal in the first half, before Bradley Wright-Phillips smashed home the equalizer in the second half. .
The Opening 45
Vancouver will host the return leg on Thursday, March 2 at B.C. Place. The Caps are in the driver's seat at the minute, thanks to the Manneh tally. Thanks to the away goals rule, the Red Bulls have to score to advance to the semifinal round.
The Whitecaps winger opened the scoring in the 39' minute off a Vancouver corner. Cristian Techera sent in a ball that hit Kendall Waston, and then Manneh's head. The good fortune continued as the ball then struck Red Bulls midfielder Daniel Royer, before finding a home in the net
The Second Half
The second half-opened with quite the dramatics as Daniel Royer earned the Red Bulls a dubious penalty. Rookie right-back, Jake Nerwinski looked to have tripped up the 26 year-old midfielder, who may have embellished contact.
Skipper Sacha Kljestan stepped up and delivered a dreadful attempt down the middle. Looking to chip David Ousted, he barely made contact with the ball, Ousted easily made the save. Vancouver momentarily escaped with danger.
The 2014 MLS Golden-Boot winner, Bradley Wright-Phillips quickly turned the tide for New York in the 62' minute. Gonzalo Veron sent in a ball that was kicked about in the Vancouver box. Tim Parker couldn't get to Wright-Phillips, and he rifled home the tying goal. Jordan Harvey wasn't covering anyone, and the lapse cost Vancouver a goal.
Things went from bad to worse for Vancouver in the 70' minute. Cristian Techera appeared to make contact with Sal Zizzo in quite a sensitive area. Accidentally or not, the referee, César Arturo Ramos Palazuelos, went to his pocket and issued Techera a straight red card. The Whitecaps had to play the final twenty-minutes of the match down to ten men.
The opening leg was destined to be a draw. New York was the better team in the second forty-five, but could not break through with the go ahead goal. Carl Robinson will be delighted his team was able to score on the road. All Vancouver has to do is keep a clean sheet at home, and they will advance to the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals.
Man of the Match
Manneh came into preseason, healthy for the first time in a long time. Vancouver needs a healthy and fit Manneh to be successful this season. If Manneh can show his pace, agility, and skill se. The Caps will have another dangerous weapon available. Connecting on an open header isn't the way Manneh usually scores his goals, but they all count just the same.
Vancouver Whitecaps Starting XI: David Ousted; Jordan Harvey, Kendall Waston(C), Tim Parker, Jake Nerwinski, 76 (Sheanon Williams); Russell Teibert, Matias Laba; Kekuta Manneh, 80 (Kyle Greig), Alphonso Davies, Cristian Techera; Erik Hurtado, 61 (Giles Barnes). 4-2-3-1.
New York Red Bulls Starting XI: Luis Robles; Justin Bilyeu, Aaron Long, Aurelien Collin, Sal Zizzo; Sean Davis, Felipe, Sacha Kljestan, Daniel Royer, 73 (Derrick Etienne); Bradley Wright-Phillips, 87 (Mike Grella), Gonzalo Veron. 4-4-2
Notes: Whitecaps striker, Erik Hurtado will miss the return leg due to yellow card accumulation