The New York Red Bulls travel to Guatemala City on Tuesday night for their final 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League group stage match against Antigua GFC. The Red Bulls bring their 16-game unbeaten streak across all competitions with them as they look to advance to the Champions League knockout rounds for the first time in club history.
Antigua GFC – New York Red Bulls CCL Preview
New York comes into the encounter off of a hard-fought 1-0 victory over the Montreal Impact that clinched a place in the MLS Cup playoffs, while Antigua enters after two consecutive losses in the Liga Nacional Apertura.
There was much speculation about if the match would be played at all, as the Guatemalan federation was suspended until further notice during a FIFA investigation. However, the game will take place with the Red Bulls needing only a draw to guarantee first place in Group F.
Players to Watch
With the Red Bulls returning to MLS league play Saturday against the Philadelphia Union, head coach Jesse Marsch will likely have to rotate much of his squad in Guatemala. This should see Argentine striker Gonzalo Veron get the start at the top of his 4-2-3-1 formation.
Despite his struggles getting minutes on the field and often being deployed in a wide midfield role, Veron has looked dangerous when in the forward position.
His speed and skill on the ball make him a handful for defenders to keep in front of them. Expect to see service from the wings in order to open up space for Veron in front of goal.
A recent drop in production and the inclusion of Austrian Daniel Royer in the starting lineup have presented midfielder Mike Grella a unique opportunity in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Likely a starter on the left side of the formation, the Red Bulls will want to see the Long Island native hold possession and get into the attack effectively.
Royer’s performance was certainly impressive against Montreal on Saturday, and Grella will need a productive performance Tuesday to state his case for playing time heading into the MLS postseason.
Midfielder Sean Davis enjoyed a fine run of form in the absence of team captain Dax McCarty and should see a start on Tuesday evening.
His flexibility will be an important part of team’s gameplan, as he is able to hold down a defensive role and provide a service moving forward up the field.
Dominant play by New York last month in Harrison saw the Red Bulls claim a 3-0 victory over Antigua, as the home side controlled much of the proceedings.
While an intense and hostile atmosphere awaits at the Estadio Mateo Flores on Tuesday, the Red Bulls should gain the result they need to advance to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals for the first time in franchise history.
NEW YORK 2 – ANTIGUA 0