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2018 CONCACAF Champions League match preview: Club Tijuana vs. New York Red Bulls

A quarterfinal match against a Major League Soccer opponent? Xolos have been there before.

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Club Tijuana’s Miller Bolaños dribbles past a Motagua FC defender in the Round of 16 match in the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League. Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente press release

Game: Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente vs. New York Red Bulls

Date: Tuesday, March 6th

Time: 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 9:00 p.m. Central, 7:00 p.m. Pacific, 2:00 a.m. UTC

Venue: Estadio Caliente (Tijuana, B.C.)

Television: United States - Univision Deportes; Mexico - Fox Sports Cono Norte

Streaming: fuboTV (Free trial + monthly subscription), Sling (Free trial + monthly subscription), Univision NOW

Members of La Masakr3 sing and wave flags during a Club Tijuana match.
The home-field advantage for Tijuana will be unmistakeable.
Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente press release

In a press conference yesterday, Club Tijuana manager Diego Cocca said “(Winning) the Champions League is also a dream of ours and we give this great importance. We are eager for the game to start.” He and the Xolos will have the opportunity to prove that against one of the most consistently good teams in CONCACAF tonight as the Xolos host Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls in the first match of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.

Tijuana dispatched Honduran side FC Motagua by an aggregate score of 2-1 in the octavos de final. While it wasn’t Tijuana’s best series, they did enough to advance. They’ve been solid defensively with the only goal allowed coming in the 88th minute of the second match.

Tijuana v Puebla - Torneo Clausura 2018 Liga MX
Omar Mendoza and the Xolos defense have allowed just seven goals across all competitions in 2018.
Photo by David Garrido/Getty Images

The only other time Xolos have made the CCL quarterfinals they ran up against another Major League Soccer side, beating the LA Galaxy 4-3 on aggregate back in 2014. This time, it’s a club from the United States’ east coast that’s heading to the frontera.

The New York Red Bulls come to Tijuana having yet to play a competitive match in MLS this season. The club did however eliminate Honduran side CD Olimpia from the CCL by an aggregate score of 3-1. For what it’s worth, Olimpia sits three points below Motagua in the Honduran Liga Nacional table.

The Red Bulls have quality players though and should prove to be stiff competition for Tijuana. Bradley Wright-Phillips had 17 goals in 32 MLS games in 2017, down from 24 in 2016. 19 year old midfielder Tyler Adams has been linked to a move to Europe, and goalkeeper Luis Robles is consistently among the best goalkeepers in the league.

MLS: Concacaf Champions League-Olimpia at New York Red Bulls
Bradley Wright-Phillips scored one of the New York Red Bulls’ goals against Olimpia last week.
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

But there are going to be some significant factors going against RBNY. They’ve yet to play a league game and have to fly six hours to play a game that starts at 10:00 p.m. in New York. They’re also going to have to contend with the pitch at Estadio Caliente, with Red Bulls manager Jesse Marsch complaining about the state of the field in a press conference.

All that said, this is CONCACAF. Just like Liga MX, anything can - and usually does - happen. Both teams are ambitious and will look to play their best in order to move on to the next round.