The Red Bulls opened the 2019 season in style, as they earned a 2-0 road win against Atletico Pantoja in Leg 1 of a Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 series on Wednesday night in the Dominican Republic.
Bradley Wright-Phillips, the Red Bulls franchise's all-time leading scorer, created the first goal of the 2019 season when he took a bicycle kick towards the net in the 39th minute for what would eventually be ruled an own goal.
Danny Royer doubled the Red Bulls' lead in the 67th minute, as the brought down a lofted cross from Kaku at the back post and fired it into the back of the net for his 33rd goal across all competitions.
Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles earned the shutout, and he was not required to make a save in the match.
The Red Bulls started 2019 with 10 of the 11 starters from its final match of 2018.
Kemar Lawrence entered the match at the start of the second half, replacing Connor Lade. It was the first game action for Lawrence since suffering a knee injury ahead of the Eastern Conference Finals series against Atlanta United.
Homegrown signing Omir Fernandez made his professional debut in the 75th minute, replacing fellow Red Bulls Academy product Alex Muyl.
It was the first time in the RBNY gameday 18 for offseason acquisitions Amro Tarek and Marcus Epps.
The Red Bulls have been an excellent road team all-time in SCCL play, as they have won or drawn seven of 10 matches away from Red Bull Arena, going 2-3-5.
The second leg against Atletico Pantoja is set for next Wednesday, February 27, at Red Bull Arena, essentially the Red Bulls' 2019 home opener. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. ET with coverage on Yahoo Sports and Red Bulls Radio.
The Red Bulls will enter Leg 2 with a 2-0 aggregate lead, and two all-important away goals. Here are some of the scenarios: If Pantoja scores three goals and hold the Red Bulls to 0 or 1, they would advance on the away-goal rule. If Pantoja wins 2-0, the game would go into a 30-minute overtime session and, if necessary, penalty kicks.
RED BULLS COMPLETE TRANSFER OF ABANG: The Red Bulls have completed the transfer of forward Anatole Abang to Chinese club Nantong Zhiyun FC.
"We wish Anatole all the best in this next step," said Red Bulls Sporting Director Denis Hamlett. "We are pleased to have found a transfer that is beneficial for both the player and the club."
Abang, 22, made 25 appearances for the Red Bulls since signing in 2015. The Cameroonian forward saw time on loan with several clubs, most recently FC Astra Giurgiu in Romania.
Transaction: New York Red Bulls transfer forward Anatole Abang to Nantong Zhiyun FC on February 21, 2019.