MONTCLAIR – Watching the match you would have thought New York Red Bulls vs. Charlotte FC was a historic rivalry in MLS. The match was physical, emotional, and chaotic at times. Both teams treated the match as a final but in the end, the experienced Red Bulls came out victorious.
For the second straight match, Charlotte FC concedes a goal in opening minutes of the game. Head coach Miguel Ramirez went into the match saying that second balls were going to be key. Sure enough, it was a second ball on a corner that landed to Red Bulls striker Patryk Klimala that gave them the early lead.
But for the second straight match, Charlotte FC responded promptly with a goal of their won in 8th minute by Daniel Ríos, assisted by Andre Shinyashiki. But the rest of the half was spent under duress for the Crown.
The Red Bulls played their signature “energy drink” soccer, pressing relentlessly and keeping Charlotte pinned in their own half. Some last ditch-defending from CLTFC defender Guzmán Corujo helped the team get to halftime even with the Red Bulls.
The second half started with what looked to be a completely different Charlotte side. CLTFC was able to maintain and move the ball freely in the first 15 minutes of the half. But the best chance they created with that possession in the second half was missed when Kamil Jóźiak hit an open header straight at the keeper.
Just as Charlotte was starting to gain control of the match, the Red Bulls managed to take the lead against the run of play. Once again, Klimala was involved in the goal, this time providing the assist to Dylan Nealis in the 64th minute. CLTFC continued to push for the equalizer but in their effort, they conceded another, this time from Tom Barlow in the 92nd minute. The Red Bulls' Open Cup journey continues as Charlotte FC's ends as they taste their first defeat in the U.S. Open Cup.
This was the 10th time in the history of the Red Bulls that they've advanced to the quarterfinals in the U.S. Open Cup. They are veterans of this competition, they've been there and done that and it showed on the night.
Can't say the same for Charlotte FC who are participating in the tournament for the first-ever time. The U.S. Open Cup is a completely different beast than that of the MLS regular season and the players got a taste of that against their first MLS opponent.
Conceding in the first five minutes in a hostile environment against an experienced team who thrives on making you uncomfortable is a tough mountain to climb for any team, let alone an expansion team. These are all the growing pains of an expansion side that can be used as a lesson for both coaches and players alike for future editions of the U.S. Open Cup.
Now the Crown will have just the regular season to focus on and they will need to refocus quickly with a trip to Seattle just four days away.