The New York Red Bulls’ dominant victory over Club Tijuana is in the rear view mirror according to coach Jesse Marsch. A date with C.D. Chivas de Guadalajara awaits in the CCL semifinal, and the task at hand is larger than ever.
“Playing at elevation. Playing in front of these fans in this stadium, I think it’s a bigger task,” said Jesse Marsch ahead of his club’s semifinal matchup in the CONCACAF Champions League. “It’s a tougher match for us and it’s going to require us to play even better than we did. In Tijuana, we needed luck in many ways and a big performance from our goalkeeper. The task at hand for us tomorrow night is a very big one.”
The Red Bulls form to open the season has been promising, but also inconsistent as the club navigates the additional fixtures of international competition. Having lost their last two road games in MLS should be a cause for concern, but Jesse Marsch’s focus has been on the CCL from the start of the season. Each MLS match has featured a different starting lineup to juggle the added work load.
The aforementioned success in Tijuana, while impressive, pales in comparison to getting a result at Estadio Akron.
“There’s going to be moments where they throw a lot at us, with the momentum of the crowd and the game,” said Marsch. “But we like to go after games. We like to go after teams. We like to be aggressive. We like to run. We like to press, and we will do that tomorrow.”
In the quarterfinals, Chivas found themselves a goal down after the first leg against the Seattle Sounders FC, but they stormed back, downing the rave green 3-1 on aggregate.
The CCL result helped turn around a difficult start to the Torneo Clasura. Before the match against the Sounders, Chivas languished near the bottom of the Liga MX table. Since the CCL victory, Chivas has climbed to 12th place and put up a 2-0-1 record.
The Red Bulls will lament a loss of some of their vaunted depth, with Kyle Duncan and Fidel Escobar picking up injuries over the last week. Duncan, who was having a break out season for the Red Bulls will be out for an extended period, having torn his ACL. Mercy smiles down on in Red Bull land, as MLS has moved their scheduled weekend fixture against the Houston Dynamo, allowing for a greater period of rest between the two legs.
Jesse Marsch will be hoping to get big performances out of his offensive players, especially Bradley Wright-Phillips. Wright-Phillips leads the Red Bulls with three goals scored and three assists. The two-time MLS golden boot winner will need to keep up the scoring touch, making the most of his chances, if the Red Bulls are to survive their trip south of the border.
The match will be exciting, according to Jesse Marsch, thanks to the both teams valuing their identity and playing on their own terms.
“Chivas has a style they stick to always, and so do Red Bull,” said Marsch. “That’s what will make this game so interesting. We’re not coming here to defend for 90 minutes. We know that we’ll have to address their strengths.”
“It sets up for a game that can maybe be ugly at times, but one where two teams will be very aggressive to go at each other. I think that that is exciting That’ll be exciting for the fans. That’ll be exciting for both teams. We know we are going to have to be at our absolute best.”