Game: Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V. vs. New York Red Bulls
Date: Tuesday, March 12th
Time: 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 p.m. Central, 5:00 p.m. Pacific, 12:00 a.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Corona TSM (Torreón, Coah.)
How they got here: New York is here by having the best aggregate record in Major League Soccer over the 2017 and 2018 seasons. They defeated Dominican Republic champions Atlético Pantoja by a 5-0 aggregate. Santos is participating by virtue of winning the 2018 Liga MX Apertura. They defeated Honduran champions CD Marathón by an 11-2 aggregate.
“There’s no place like home” was the mantra of Dorothy Gale in the 1939 classic The Wizard Of Oz, and that certainly could apply to Santos Laguna as well as the intrepid Kansan. After facing León and Red Bulls and Tiburones (oh my!), Los Guerreros return to Estadio Corona tonight to face the Red Bulls again in the second leg of the Concacaf Champions League. After picking up two critical points in the frigid cold of New Jersey, Santos are in good position advance to the second leg.
In there way are the New York Red Bulls, who had a bye week this past weekend. The rest may be helpful for Red Bulls, although Santos playing on Friday evening against Veracruz means they have as much rest as possible going into the game. Red Bulls striker Bradley Wright-Phillips turns 34 years old today and is coming off of his third 20 goal season in Major League Soccer, however he was largely a non-factor in the first leg thanks to containment by Santos’ center backs.
Red Bulls will get the services of Panamanian right back Michael Murillo, who missed the first leg on a red card suspension. He will most likely be a noticeable upgrade on Kyle Duncan, who was exploited by Marlos Moreno in the first half and Deinner Quiñones in the second. Santos should have most of their players available, although Ayrton Preciado has been out injured and Matheus Doría missed the Veracruz match with a knock he picked up last Tuesday.
There’s also no place like home for Santos, where they’ve lost only one Liga MX match and four out of five playoff series since the start of 2018. With the home advantage, Santos have to be seen as clear favorites to advance. The winner will face off against the winners of the Houston Dynamo - Tigres UANL series. Tigres leads the series 2-0 and will play in Nuevo León tonight.