In front of an empty Exploria Stadium in Orlando, FL, yesterday night, Tigres gave the next step toward claiming their first international title in franchise history, and they did so by defeating Ronny Deila’s New York City FC by a 4-0 second leg final, 5-0 on aggregate. The Big Apple squad appeared the inferiors from the get-go, never proving capable of threatening Nahuel Guzmán’s goal, despite having 15 total shots for the match. Tigres pressed whenever they saw fit and ended up getting their way with mostly everything.
Despite an even ball possession stat (Tigres 52%, NYC FC 48%), one could tell the Mexican club were in complete control when they so desired, showing the ability to complete plays and score at will, clearly showing up on the stat sheet, with all 6 of their shots on target, and 4 of them ending in goals. Apart from ball possession, Tigres’ defenders dried up nearly every NYC FC attack, never allowing them to get into an attacking rhythm or exploit any apparent weakness. And the only shot on target that really had anything on it, created by Tajouri-Shradi, was met by a masterful leap by Nahuel to keep his clean sheet.
Even on offense, Tigres simply proved to have the better, more talented strikers, with Gignac’s tremendous header, Leo Fernández’s back-heel strike, and Javier Aquino’s great personal play finish; they all showed off their immense quality yesterday night when converting, and it could’ve been much worse had Tigres desired it, but Ferretti clearly had the Semi-Finals in mind, and preferred to play it safe with his star-studded squad.
In the end, this matchup went the way it had to, and Tigres walked their way through the QF round. Up next are Olimpia from Honduras, who lost their second leg match yesterday to Montreal Impact, tying the aggregate at 2, but with the Hondurans advancing thanks to more visiting goals. The other Semi-Finalists will be decided tonight, as Atlanta United take on América, as well as LA FC squaring off with disappointing Cruz Azul, who will look to make ammends with their fans. If all goes as expected, we should have an all-Mexican second Semi-Final.
What’s the best news for Tigres? Their entire squad is healthy. When this team is at full strength, they can reach places not many other clubs in the continent can. Even some of their bench players would be starters in virtually any other club. They are indeed favorites to overcome Olimpia. If they avoid being overconfident against this gritty Honduran club, they should be a win away from reaching their first ever Club World Cup.