Red Bulls trounce Charlotte in MLS Eastern Conference Wild Card

ByReuters ESPN logo
Thursday, October 26, 2023

Elias Manoel scored a hat trick for the first goals of his MLS Cup playoff career and the New York Red Bulls romped to a 5-2 victory over Charlotte FC on Wednesday in the Eastern Conference Wild Card game in Harrison, New Jersey.

John Tolkin also scored and had two assists for the Red Bulls, who had to win their final three matches of the regular season just to secure the eighth seed and the right to host ninth-seeded Charlotte.

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Tom Barlow added the Red Bulls' fourth goal to help secure passage to a first-round series against Supporters' Shield-winning FC Cincinnati. The best-of-three set will begin Sunday night in Ohio.

Daniel Edelman and Luquinhas each added two assists for the Red Bulls, who matched their highest-scoring performance of the regular season.

Kerwin Vargas and substitute Patrick Agyemang scored after halftime for Charlotte, each time cutting the visitors' deficit to two. However, Charlotte FC would get no closer in the late stages of the first playoff match in their two-year club history.

Vargas closes his season having scored in his last three games in all competitions.

Manoel scored only three goals during the entire regular season but now has six in his MLS career against Charlotte since his arrival from Brazil in the summer of 2022.

He took his 10th-minute opener like someone in a good run of form.

After Edelman won an aerial duel, he sent a speculative pass over Manoel's head and toward the right half of the penalty area. Manoel skillfully brought the ball down to his feet with his chest, then guided a right-footed finish past goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina and inside the left post.

After Tolkin doubled the lead from a free kick in the 26th minute, Manoel added his second goal in the 37th to give the hosts a commanding 3-0 lead.

Tolkin made an interception in midfield and dribbled down the left flank before spotting Manoel near the left corner of the penalty area, where he curled a right-footed finish around Kahlina and into the top corner.

Manoel's third completed the scoring in the 78th minute when he held his run to remain on side, received Luquinha's pass and then calmly beat Kahlina on the break.

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