The New York Red Bulls will look to make history on Tuesday night as they aim to make the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League Semifinals for the first time in club history.
New York takes a two-goal advantage back to Red Bull Arena against Club Tijuana, and will kick off at 8 p.m. in Harrison, New Jersey.
Head Coach Jesse Marsch said that all the big games the club has played in over the last few years will look to pay off against Xolos.
“We talked last year, with the disappointment of losing in the playoffs, that it was the first year where we felt that we played brave and with courage and went after things,” Marsch said before training on Monday. “Coming into this year, we wanted to make sure that this was not just a one-off or random situation, but now truly part of our identity. To make it part of our identity we were going to have to nurture it every day and continue to push each other to make sure that when big moments came we were going to be ready, and so far this season, I think we’ve shown that we continue to build that into what we do.”
Bradley Wright-Phillips, who netted a brace against Tijuana in Mexico, said the team is preparing for a battle in Leg 2 of the matchup.
“I think the guys know that it’s going to be even tougher,” Wright-Phillips said. “If I was playing on that team, I’d come here with nothing to lose and try to get some goals. We’ve got to prepare for that. We’ve got to deal with what the first half is going to be like. It’s probably going to be frantic, you know? We’re going to have to ride that wave and just see it out. We’re in a good position but we’re expecting it to be a very tough game.”
The Red Bulls were able to hold Tijuana to a clean sheet in their home stadium for Leg 1 – and so far, have only conceded one goal in competitive action, between Champions League and MLS, on a penalty kick.
“I think we’re ready for some pressure,” center back Tim Parker said. “Obviously, getting two goals on the road means a lot for us. It gives us a little bit of an advantage coming back home. We have to keep in mind that they’re a good team, they’re going to want to play and they’re going to put some pressure on us.”
Tijuana has only one away goal between Liga MX 2018 Clausura and Champions League play all season and is yet to win on the road between the two competitions.
New York said they’re preparing for whatever Xolos throws at them – which could be any number of different playing styles.
“We’re prepared for if they play the way they did last game, we’re prepared if they play the way that they more normally do and then we’re also prepared for a couple other nuances that we think they can introduce,” Marsch said. “We have a few wrinkles of our own, so I think that’s what always makes these two-game series interesting. There will always be adjustments and I think that the team that is most prepared for what adjustments might be out there usually ends up finding a way to gain an edge in the second leg.”
Whatever type of game Leg 2 ends up being, the head coach is confident his squad will be ready.
“[Tuesday] night will be a big test, but the group will be up for it,” Marsch said.