Tijuana Xolos 2018 CCL Quarterfinals Preview: Xolos Host New York Red Bulls For First Leg

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Credit: EVT Sports

Game: Tijuana Xolos vs New York Red Bulls

When: Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Where: Estadio Caliente, Tijuana, Mexico

Time: 7:00 P.M. PST

TV: Univision Deportes


The Tijuana Xolos will play the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal fixture against the New York Red Bulls this Tuesday at the Estadio Caliente.

The game has potential to be a very entertaining encounter as both teams have solid squads, and because of the rivalry between MLS and Liga MX teams.

The Border City Dogs defeated Honduran club Motagua in the round of 16 stage to get to this quarterfinal stage. The first leg between Club Tijuana and Motagua ended 1-0 in Edinburg, Texas thanks to a goal by Uruguayan midfielder Ignacio Rivero.

The second leg at the Estadio Caliente ended 1-1 with Jose Alberto Garcia scoring the lone goal for the Aztec Canines.

That series proved to be much more complicated than expected for the Xolos as Gibran Lajud had to put in overtime to get past the Central American team. The Mexican goalkeeper was easily the best player in that two-legged matchup and will be one of the players to watch heading into this duel.

In terms of the Liga MX, the Xolos are coming off a dominant 3-1 win against Lobos BUAP at home that put the team in sixth place with 16 points. Diego Cocca used all of his key starters for that match and it is unclear if there will be rotations due to fatigue from some of the players. Ignacio Malcorra did come off the bench in that game after returning from injury. But it is unlikely that he will start this game against the Red Bulls as Cocca said in a press conference on Monday that he does not want to push Malcorra just yet.

Juan Martin Lucero and Gustavo Bou will still be unavailable for this match and could potentially be out until the end of this month.

For now, the border city side has shown that it has enough depth on its roster to stay competitive in the Liga MX and CCL, despite injuries. The Xoloitzcuintles do have the better team as they play in a more competitive league than the MLS and will also count with the home-field advantage.

The New York Red Bulls also defeated a Honduran team to get to this quarterfinal stage as they took down Olimpia in the round of 16 in the CCL.

The first leg in that matchup ended 1-1, but the American team did have a dominant 2-0 win in the second leg at the Red Bull Arena. Bradley Wright-Phillips, Daniel Royer, and Sean Davis provided the goals in that series as former USMNT goalkeeper Luis Robles kept a clean sheet in that second leg. The MLS season did begin this past weekend, but the Red Bulls did not play in the opening week, which could give them an advantage heading into this encounter. The American side is led by former MLS midfielder Jesse Marsch, who played in the United States from 1996-2009 with D.C. United, Chicago Fire, and Chivas USA.

Marsch has been in charge of New York since 2015 and has an MLS coach of the year award to his name. The American head coach respects his opponent and is well aware of the quality of a Liga MX team like Club Tijuana possesses. The Red Bulls do have a decent team, but should struggle in this first leg due to the edge that the Estadio Caliente gives Club Tijuana. This competition is always an opportunity for MLS teams to prove that they can compete with Mexican sides, which adds pressure to the Metropolitan side in this matchup.

Players To Watch

Jose Alberto Garcia

Diego Cocca may have found a gem after the injuries to Gustavo Bou and Juan Martin Lucero in Jose Alberto Garcia. “Beto” has scored in Club Tijuana’s last two games in all competitions and is quickly earning Cocca’s trust. The Mexican striker is not necessarily a quick or very skillful player, but he has a knack for scoring with his positioning and finishing ability. The Xolos’ offense has not been the best this year, but alternate players like Garcia have been stepping up lately.

Bradley Wright-Phillips

The Englishman has been tearing up the MLS since his arrival to the New York Red Bulls in 2013. He is New York’s all-time scorer with 86 MLS goals and led the team with 19 goals in the 2017 season. Wright-Phillips has pace and a deadly finishing ability, making him the main player to watch on the metropolitan side.


The game is set to be a very enticing clash as Diego Cocca revealed his game plan for the encounter. The Argentine said that he will always try and be aggressive at home and be “the protagonist”. It is unclear as to how Jesse Marsch will try and counteract that, but it should be an enticing clash at the Estadio Caliente. EVT predicts a 2-1 win for the Xolos in a game they should win if they wish to advance to the semifinals of the competition.


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