Disappointing draw spells trouble for the New York Red Bulls (Highlights)
Feb 22, 2017; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips (99) celebrates after scoring a goal during the second half against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Red Bulls are off to a disappointing start in the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals with a 1-1 draw.

The first leg of the New York Red Bulls and Vancouver Whitecaps CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal match ended in a 1-1 draw Wednesday night at Red Bulls Arena. The result gives Vancouver the clear advantage to move on in the tournament as they enter the second leg with the all important away goal.

Still, in preseason form, both teams struggled to get clear attempts on goal until the 39th minute, when Vancouver was able to break the deadlock behind a Kekuta Manneh header off of a Whitecaps corner.

“We knew the game plan going in probably for both teams, that they would try to counter attack and score on set pieces, so its disappointing to give up a goal on set pieces after we worked on them,” said Sasha Kljestan.

New York would get the chance to equalize moments into the first half when referee, Cesar Ramos, awarded the Red Bulls a penalty for a tough challenge inside the box on midfielder Daniel Royer.

Newly awarded captain, Sasha Kljestan, would not capitalize on the opportunity as he attempted to outsmart goalkeeper, David Ousted, with a slow-paced shot straight down the middle that was easily deflected. To Sasha’s credit, Ousted has a record of stopping penalty kicks at Red Bulls Arena.

“Sasha has had a good record since the time I missed two against the same dude…He should not be allowed in this stadium,” said Bradley Wright-Phillips in reference to questions on the decision to allow Kljestan to take the penalty kick.

Despite a lack of shots on goal, Bradley Wright-Phillips would equalize for the Red Bulls in the 62nd minute with a powerful strike that sailed into the upper right corner of the goal.

The game then took a huge turn in favor of the Red Bulls when Vancouver midfielder, Cristian Techera received a straight red card for a high boot challenge on Sal Zizzo. However, the team failed to find another goal despite the Whitecaps down a man.

Another performance like this one would mean the end of the team’s CONCACAF Champions League title dreams. “Certainly, we’re going to go there and try to put the game on our terms like we always do,” said Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch.

The team heads to Vancouver for the second leg next Thursday, March 2. Look for the Red Bulls to build on their performance and try to once again dominate possession in the second leg.

Thursday’s game will be the team’s final tune-up before traveling to Atlanta to open the season against expansion side Atlanta United FC on Sunday, March 5.

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