Photo by Jim O’Connor/ USA Today Sports
By RYAN TOLMICH
With just two games remaining in the tournament’s group stage, MLS rivals New York Red Bulls and D.C. United enter Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions League action under vastly different circumstances.
Following last week’s 1-0 loss to the Montreal Impact, the Red Bulls see themselves against the ropes, needing back-to-back wins to ensure advancement out of the group.
The first of those must-win contests takes place Wednesday in El Salvador, as the Red Bulls travel south to take on FAS. Wednesday’s clash marks the second meeting between the two sides, as the Red Bulls previously knocked off FAS 2-0 at Red Bull Arena, eliminating the El Salvadoran side from the competition in the process.
FAS will now look to return the favor at home, but they will need to do so without top scorer Jonathan Aguila, who is set to miss six weeks due to injury. The Red Bulls are expected to field a stronger squad than in previous games in an effort to essentially force a winner-take-all clash with the Impact next month.
Meanwhile, D.C. United enter Wednesday with a fraction of the stress felt by their Eastern Conference rivals, as Ben Olsen’s side need only a point from their next two games to guarantee advancement.
Both of those upcoming games will be contested against Panamanian side Tauro FC, the first of which comes Wednesday at RFK Stadium.
Having already knocked off Jamaica’s Waterhouse FC twice, D.C. United sit tied for the group’s top spot. With Waterhouse having already finished with their four group stage contests, just a single point against winless Tauro FC will send D.C. United through.
Although D.C. United is unlikely to need the team’s biggest stars to secure advancement, Olsen will have both Fabian Espindola and Eddie Johnson available Wednesday, as the pair of strikers return from an MLS suspension and concussion, respectively.
What do you think of tonight’s CCL action? What lineups do you expect to see? How do you see tonight’s action unfolding?
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