Game: New York Red Bulls vs. Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente
Date: Tuesday, March 13th
Time: 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 p.m. Central, 5:00 p.m. Pacific, 12:00 a.m. UTC
Venue: Red Bull Arena (Harrison, N.J.)
Club Tijuana heads to Northern New Jersey to play the second leg of the Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals against the New York Red Bulls. It’s without hyperbole or exaggeration to say that this match will be among the toughest test that Tijuana has ever faced.
They’re making their first trip to the Eastern Time Zone since they played Atlante in a Copa MX match in August, except this time they’re trading in the sunny, humid clime of Cancún for March in New Jersey. There’s a nor’easter hitting the area prior to the game that could dump up to a foot of snow (although the latest predictions are only calling for a couple of inches). The Red Bulls also have a two goal lead that Tijuana will need to overcome against goalkeeper Luis Robles, who made a career-best thirteen saves in the first match. Robles also only needed to make one save in the Red Bulls 4-0 win in the season opener against the Portland Timbers.
But all is not lost for the Border Dogs. They dominated the first match, getting a mind-boggling 30 shots at Estadio Caliente. For a team that has been primarily a defensive-minded force, this is particularly encouraging for Xolos’ fans. They also played a mostly rotated squad in their Saturday match against Tigres, meaning most of their top players should be rested and ready to go.
All of this means nothing however if they can not find a way to solve Robles or stop Bradley Wright-Phillips. Wright-Phillips scored both goals in Tijuana and scored one against Portland on Saturday evening, and the Xolos’ center backs will have to do a much better job marking him than they did a week ago.
The last Liga MX team to go down to a Major League Soccer team was Tigres, who lost to the Seattle Sounders back in the 2012-13 Quarterfinal round. It will be a difficult challenge for Tijuana to avoid this distinction, but it’s not an impossible task.