Game: New York Red Bulls vs Tijuana Xolos
When: Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Where: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, New Jersey
Time: 5:00 P.M. PST
TV: Univision Deportes
The Tijuana Xolos will play the second leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal matchup against the New York Red Bulls this Tuesday.
The Border City Dogs are coming off a 1-0 loss to Tigres UANL in the Liga MX and are set for a very tough match in New Jersey. The Xolos had a very disappointing 2-0 loss against the New York Red Bulls in the first leg of this series at the Estadio Caliente and will need to construct an impressive comeback in this return leg. If the Xolos win by a score of 2-0, the game will directly go to penalties, whereas anything more than that will secure the Aztec Canines’ place in the semifinals of the competition. This is an extremely tough task considering how the Xolos have been playing away from home. Diego Cocca’s game plan on the road this season has been to sit back and hope for a counter attack.
Obviously, the Argentine manager will not go for that tactic in this game and will need to be very aggressive from the initial whistle. A 4-4-2 or 4-1-3-2 formation are the more likely options. A strong starting XI should be used in the game, as an alternate squad was used against Tigres UANL over the weekend. The Xolos had plenty of scoring opportunities in the first leg against the metropolitan side, but will need to work on their finishing in this return leg. The Xoloitzcuintles finished that first leg with 30 shots, but were denied constantly throughout the encounter by Red Bulls’ keeper Luis Robles. In 2018, the Aztec Canines have only scored one goal away from home in all competitions and should be due for a tough task this Tuesday.
The New York Red Bulls also rested their starters ahead of this match against Club Tijuana in their MLS season-opener against the Portland Timbers.
The Red Bulls pulled off an impressive 4-0 win against Portland with an alternate squad at home and will be motivated headed into this match. The home-field advantage for the Red Bulls could play a massive role in this game as the temperature will be very low and not ideal for the Xolos’ players. In the first leg, Bradley Wright-Phillips was the clear standout offensively as he scored both goals for the MLS team and will be one to watch in this game. The Englishman has a strong physical presence and a very nice shot that the Aztec Canines’ should be wary of. The Red Bulls’ defense is vulnerable, as shown in the first leg when the Xoloitzcuintles managed to pull off 30 shots. The American side has plenty of advantages heading into this return leg, but it should prove to be a very intriguing encounter.
Players to Watch
The man of the match from that first leg was easily Luis Robles, who pulled off 10 saves to lead to New York’s victory. The American shot-stopper blocked everything that came his way and also managed to keep a clean sheet against Portland over the weekend. The Red Bulls’ captain will be motivated in this match and will be a key figure if the home team advances to the semifinals of the competition.
The Argentine is back in full force after being absent due to an injury that kept him off the pitch for a couple of games. Malcorra is one of the most crucial players for Club Tijuana as he is the generator of play in the attack and is an engine in the midfield as well. The 30-year-old has had more hairstyles than goals this season, but continues to be one of the players that drive the attack for the Xolos.
Everything is against the Xolos in this match, but everything was against the Red Bulls in the first leg and they managed to come away with an impressive result. EVT predicts a 2-0 win for the Border City Dogs that will take the game to a thrilling penalty shootout, where the Xolos will come out on top. Tuesday’s match should be a very exciting and intense encounter, just like the first leg, and should not disappoint.