The New York Red Bulls, after advancing to the 2016-17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League Knockout Round, are set to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the Quarterfinals.
Here’s what you need to know about CONCACAF Champions League ahead of the Red Bulls’ first SCCL quarterfinal clash in February.
Knockout Round Structure
The quarterfinals will be decided over the course of two games, beginning with the first leg at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 8 p.m.
The second leg will be played at Vancouver on Thursday, March 2 at 10 p.m.
Eight teams qualified for the knockout stage, with the higher-seeded team hosting the second leg.
The away goals rule is used if the aggregate score is tied after normal time of the second leg, but not after extra time. Ties will be decided by penalty kick shootout if the aggregate score is level after extra time of the second leg.
The winner of Champions League qualifies for the FIFA Club World Cup and will represent CONCACAF against other continental champions from around the world. UEFA Champions League winners, Real Madrid C.F., won the 2016 FIFA Club World Cup.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Vancouver Whitecaps FC finished a perfect 4-0-0 in the group stage, defeating Central FC and fellow MLS-side Sporting KC. With 12 points and a goal differential of +8, the Canadian side enters the Knockout Round as the top seed in the tournament.
The Whitecaps missed out on the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs, finishing in eighth place of the Western Conference with a 10-15-9 record. Despite scoring the fourth most amount of goals in the conference, they also allowed the second most amount of goals, which proved to be their downfall in the MLS regular season.
Vancouver exercised the contract options on 11 players in an effort to preserve the core of the team, however, also parted ways with captain Pedro Morales. The midfielder spent three years with the club and stands as the club’s all-time MLS regular season assist leader and second in goals with 25.
Midfielder Christian Bolaños, who led the team in assists and finished second behind Morales with five goals, will look to expand his role in the team alongside Kekuta Manneh in Morales’ absence.
In goal, David Ousted will be the man up against Luis Robles and the Red Bulls. Ousted made 110 saves last season, fifth most in MLS.
In their only matchup last season, the Red Bulls defeated Vancouver on the road, 1-0, thanks to a goal by Bradley Wright-Phillips. New York is 1-3-3 all-time against Vancouver in MLS competitions (1-1-2 at BC Place).
With a victory, the Red Bulls will face the winner of Pumas vs. Tigres
If New York defeats Vancouver in the quarterfinals, the Red Bulls will face either Pumas UNAM or Tigres UANL.
Tigres finished the group stage 3-1-0, finishing above Herediano and Plaza Amador with nine points. Fresh off their 2016 Apertura championship, the club’s fifth league title, Los Auriazules stand as one of the best Liga MX teams in the tournament. Led by Liga MX leading-goal scorer André-Pierre Gignac, who netted 24 times last year, the 2015-16 CONCACAF Champions League runners-up aim for the championship this season.
Three-time CONCACAF Champions’ Cup winners Pumas defeated W Connection FC and Honduras Progreso to win the group with a 3-1-0 record. Pumas finished sixth in the Liga MX 2016 Apertura and were led by goal scorers Ismael Sosa and Matias Britos. The defense is led by veteran center backs Gerardo Alcoba (33-years-old) and Dario Veron (37-years-old).