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Orlando City wins as Kljestan downs thin NY Red Bulls side

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Sacha Kljestan came back to bite his former club as his 72nd minute goal provided a 1-0 victory for an otherwise poor Orlando City side over a New York Red Bulls squad looking thin during the international break.

With Aaron Long and Michael Murillo away on international duty and Florian Valot to a recently torn ACL, the Red Bulls welcomed Orlando City to Red Bull Arena already struggling for depth. Then, just 20 minutes into the match, defender Connor Lade was forced off due to injury. He might have been given a bit longer to recover and return to the match, but New York came close to conceding while reduced to 10 men, so Omir Fernandez was summoned off the bench.

While the Red Bulls seemed to have control of the match, they weren’t exactly of high quality. The hosts managed just four shots on target through the match and completed just five passes in the penalty area all game. The left flank for New York was especially devoid of creativity as all four key passes came from the right. Marc Rzatkowski picked up three of those four key passes, while Daniel Royer, Alex Muyl, and Vincent Bezecourt failed to record any. Bezecourt had an extremely poor match, with just six completed passes in 60 minutes of play before he came off in favor of young Mathias Jorgensen.

As the second half dragged along, Orlando City surprisingly went in front as Kljestan reached a cross by Joao Moutinho at the far post that was likely meant for Dom Dwyer, but as it skittered behind the striker, Kljestan was there streaking in from midfield to meet the ball and strike it home.

New York began to feel a sense of urgency after the goal, and nearly equalized in the 82nd minute but Orlando City defender Carlos Ascues was on hand to clear the ball off the line. Things would get much worse on the injury front for New York, as Fernandez required a substitute himself in the 80th minute before Alex Muyl came off in stoppage time with the Red Bulls already out of subs. Muyl came back on the field, but he initially had signaled for a substitute before realizing they were out.

The loss leaves New York with just three points through the season’s first three matches and sees them fail to take hold of an opportunity against a poor opponent at home. Orlando City, meanwhile, earns its first win of the campaign and jumps above New York into fifth in the Eastern Conference.

Red Bulls midfielder Valot suffers torn ACL

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According to multiple reports, New York Red Bulls midfielder Florian Valot suffered a torn ACL during the 4-1 win over San Jose on Saturday.

Valot was fouled from behind in the 35th minute by San Jose defender Judson who followed through with a scissor motion, and as Valot went to ground his body clearly contorted in an awkward direction, leaving him in a heap on the ground as he clutched his right knee.

The injury is a cruel blow to the 26-year-old who missed the second half of last season after tearing the ACL in his left knee in early July.

There is no timetable for his return, as that will be determined after his operation is complete, according to Panizo. With most ACL injuries, surgery to complete the repair often must wait days or even weeks as the swelling must come down first. It’s possible that this injury has happened early enough for Valot to return this season, but that will not be decided until a later date.

“I think I almost started crying when I saw that,” said Red Bulls winger Daniel Royer after the match, “because I know how hard he’s working, I know how tough it is to get back from a long-term injury. He was working so hard and doing so well like now when he came back, and he’s really important to the team so that was a terrible moment.”

The French-born midfielder came to the United States in 2014 after being let go by Monaco’s reserve squad. He played for Rider University for two years before joining the New York Red Bulls II in the summer of 2016, and rose to the big league club before the next season.

“When you look at the sort of season he had last year where he was so good for us and he was a really big surprise, and then for him to go down in practice with an ACL, you can’t help but let that thought into your mind,” goalkeeper Luis Robles said. “As a teammate you care for your guys, and that was my first thought, ‘please I’m hoping that he’s ok.'”

NY Red Bulls use big 2nd half to top San Jose 4-1

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The New York Red Bulls have finally picked up win number one of the MLS season as they dominated San Jose in a 4-1 victory.

Still in only their second league match of the season due to CONCACAF Champions League play, the Red Bulls went into the break trailing 1-0 thanks to a very early score by Christian Espinoza, but they rallied with a monster second half to earn all three points.

Alex Muyl started the second half party just six minutes after the break after Bradley Wright-Phillips took a shot from distance that Daniel Vega saved, but the rebound fell to Daniel Royer at the byline who crossed to Muyl for the tap-in. He grabbed a brace to put the Red Bulls in front with 20 minutes to go, another tap-in after Royer did hard work down the right and his deflected cross fell to the far post where Muyl was waiting.

Wright-Phillips put the game to bed in the 85th minute as a brilliant touch at the near post poked in Sean Davis’s cross, and Royer grabbed a deserved goal four minutes later as he crashed home Michael Murillo’s cross at the far post. The win pulled RBNY up to four points on the very young season, with Columbus leading the Eastern Conference on seven.

Also of note, 18-year-old Danish youth international Mathias Jorgensen made his MLS debut in the 86th minute, coming in after BWP picked up his tally. Jorgensen was acquired this winter from Danish top-flight club OB.

CCL roundup: RBNY’s comeback falls short; Dynamo gone, too

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The odds were long — as they tend to be for MLS teams this time of year — but that didn’t stop the New York Red Bulls from making things interesting before they were eventually throttled by Santos Laguna in leg no. 2 of the sides’ CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal tie.

[ MORE: USMNT roster unveiled as Pulisic, European stars return ]

The final result was anything but surprising; it was the path by which the Red Bulls arrived at their 6-2 aggregate defeat that was most shocking. Chris Armas’ side went from 2-0 down to level at 2-2 after just nine minutes in Torreon, Mexico. Omir Fernandez and Daniel Royer bagged goals in the 4th and 9th minutes, respectively.

The game’s final 81 minutes would see the Red Bulls take just two shots, putting exactly one on target. Predictably, the comeback halted dead in its tracks at 2-2, though they were at one point fewer than 20 minutes from forcing a penalty shootout.

Then, they conceded a goal in the 72nd minute. And the 76th. And the 79th. And the 81st.

Elsewhere in Mexico, Tigres refused to play with the same fire as Santos and finished off the Houston Dynamo with relative comfort and ease. Carlos Salcedo bagged the second leg’s only goal in the 68th minute to make it 3-0 on aggregate and to set up a mouth-watering clash between the two Liga MX sides in next month’s semifinals.

The hopes and dreams of an entire league now rest largely on the shoulders of Sporting Kansas City, who have a 2-1 deficit to overturn at home against Panamanian side Independiente, and to a much lesser extent Atlanta United, who come home trailing Monterrey 3-0.

Santos Laguna stops Red Bulls comeback bid

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The New York Red Bulls’ comeback effort came up short in Mexico, as Santos Laguna rallied to defeat RBNY 4-2 in the second leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals to produce a 6-2 aggregate score line.

Santos Laguna held a 2-0 lead after the first leg in New Jersey, but Chris Armas’ men flipped that on its ear within 10 minutes of kickoff. Nine minutes, actually.

But before we go any further, look. at this. goal:

[ MORE: Man City clobbers Schalke ]

Daniel Royer had a fourth minute goal and a ninth minute assist for the Red Bulls, who got the match to halftime deadlocked on aggregate.

It all fell apart late in the second half, as a Santos Laguna goal forced the Red Bulls to push even harder for another goal.

Brian Lozano scored twice and Deinner Quinones had a pair of assists as the hosts hit the board four times in nine minutes. Diego Valdes and Jose Abella scored the other goals.

The first goal came courtesy of true Homegrown midfielder Omir Fernandez, as the 20-year-old Wake Forest product cut to the near post to slot Royer’s pass.

Fernandez was with the RBNY Academy from 2011-16, and played for the U-23 side and New York Red Bulls II.

Royer scored his goal five minutes later, running across the 18 to collect and finish a Bradley Wright-Phillips pass after Florian Valot started the move.