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CCL Preview: Whitecaps aiming to turn the tide against Tigres

The Vancouver Whitecaps have an improbable task on Wednesday night in the CONCACAF Champions League against Tigres.

The second leg of their semifinal moves to BC Place as Tigres holds a 2-0 lead. That gives the Whitecaps an uphill climb as they look to reach the CCL final against Pachuca, who took care of FC Dallas on Tuesday night.

“I don’t care if we’re the underdog,” said Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted. “We’re going out to win that game.”

The Mexican champions have been affected by the injury bug as Jurgen Damm, Luis Quinones and Luis Advincula will miss Wednesday’s match. This will make the Whitecaps’ task a little simpler, as Damm and Quinones were very active in the first leg. Quinones alone could have had a hat trick if not for poor finishing. Meanwhile, Advincula has established himself as the starting right-back for Tigres, so he is another crucial absence.

Tigres is also coming off a 1-0 defeat at home to Leon last weekend in Liga MX. Meanwhile, the Whitecaps earned a massive 4-2 victory at home versus the LA Galaxy. Trailing, 2-1, at halftime, the match changed when Fredy Montero replaced the injured Erik Hurtado. The Colombian picked up a goal and an assist in the win.

“The team is excited. The team is saying good, positive stuff about the game,” Montero said. “We believe we can do it. We are in our house in front of our fans. We’ve worked hard during the week. Our motivation is high for this game.”

Montero has been confirmed as the starter for the Whitecaps, and newcomer Tony Tchani could also crack the starting XI after being added to the roster. Tchani played 26 minutes and looked comfortable beside Matias Laba in midfield.

Should the Cameroonian partner Laba again on Wednesday, they will be key as Tigres boasts the likes of Andre-Pierre Gignac, Eduardo Vargas, Javier Aquino and Ismael Sosa, who will all be central threats.

Tigres pounced in the first leg thanks to individual errors by the Whitecaps defense. The Mexican side was comfortable in possession, cycling the ball across the pitch as it tried to find an opening in the Whitecaps back line. Ricardo Ferretti will surely utilize a similar strategy as his side holds a 2-0 advantage.

As for the Whitecaps, the club has nothing to lose in this match. The Whitecaps may not go on the offensive, but they managed to create chances via the counterattack. Poor finishing by Brek Shea and Nicolas Mezquida prevented the visitors from grabbing a vital away goal. The Canadian side will generate opportunities. It just needs to capitalize this time around. Otherwise, it will be an all-Liga MX final.

“Some of these players will never ever get the opportunity to play against this level of quality players again,” said Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson. “So don’t be afraid of it. Go and enjoy it. Embrace it. And go and leave your stamp on the game.

“When you cross that white line, reputations go out the window.  And it comes down to simple hard work, quality, we know they’ve got quality but so do we as we showed on Saturday especially, and who wants it more.”

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