NY Red Bulls dig deep ahead of SCCL

The New York Red Bulls (white jersey) celebrate after scoring against visiting NYCFC in a MLS game on July 23, 2016, in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo courtesy of the New York Red Bulls)

HARRISON, New Jersey -- If the New York Red Bulls can play in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League the same way performed in a Major League Soccer win on Sunday, they might go a long way in the tournament.

The host Red Bulls rolled 4-1 over local-rival New York City FC, striking for three goals during a 21-minute, first-half stretch.

After playing at the Chicago Fire on Sunday, New York returns home to host Guatemala’s Antigua GFC on Wednesday in the 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League opener for both.

In defeating NYCFC, the Red Bulls got a brace from forward Bradley Wright-Phillips, who took his 2016 total to a team-high 11 goals in 22 games – two off the league-leading pace set by NYCFC’s David Villa.

"I don't feel like I'm doing anything different, but if I had to put it on anything, I've grown up watching derbies," said Phillips, who has eight goals in six all-time games against NYCFC. "I get nervous before them. It's a different feeling. I want to be the first to score in this game. It just means so much more to me when I'm out there. I want to get goals and I want to be remembered in the derby."

Playing and excelling in 92-degree heat at home bodes well for when the Red Bulls travel for a SCCL encounter on August 16 against Alianza, where the weather should be much cooler, especially at night.

"It wasn't fun to be out there but it’s just a matter of will power," captain Dax McCarty remarked. "It's a matter of blocking out the heat, the fatigue, making sure you prepare for the game the right way, drinking a lot of fluids. Then going out there, just knowing that on the day we are going to be the fitter team."

After a 1W-0D-6L start to the season, New York is 8-4-3 in its last 15 games and has climbed to second place in the Eastern Conference table.

"The key is to keep our foot on the gas and to keep going after games, to stay focused on what it's going to take night in and night out and to make sure that we're getting a good performance from as many players as we possibly can," concluded head coach Jesse Marsch.