Red Bulls celebrate Sean Davis’ goal. (Photo by Matthew Levine)
By Michael Lewis
HARRISON, N.J. — One thing is certain:
By the time the Red Bulls open their Major League Soccer season against the Portland Timbers March 10, they will be finely honed.
They will have three competitive matches under their belt, thanks to the CONCACAF Champions League.
After eliminating Olimpia in the Round of 16 Thursday night, the Red Bulls’ next challenge will be Tijuana of Mexico. New York will visit the Mexican club Tuesday, March 6 at 10 p.m. ET before hosting its foes Tuesday, March 13 at 8 p.m. ET.
The Red Bulls will have all of four days to prepare for their next challenge.
“Now, the stakes get raised quite a bit,” said Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch, who watched both games of the Tijuana-Motagua series. “Motagua actually gave them a good match, but Tijuana is a very good team and we know they like to spread the field. They are a very good passing team. When Tijuana spreads the field they hit you from one side and quickly get the other. … It’s a fit team, it’s a talented team. It won’t be easy down there playing on turf, the turnaround is quick for us because we play on Tuesday.
“They play [Friday] night and we will see what kind of lineup they field for that game and then turnaround to play for Tuesday. For me and for us, this is really exciting, I have so much respect for Mexican football, when I was a player and part of the reason why I have so much respect for them is when I was with Chivas USA, I had good access to great Mexican players and we would go down to Guadalajara and play against teams and watch games.
“We know that anytime you play a Mexican team that you are going to deal with a team that is good on the ball, a team that is going to test you, a team that is fit, a team that can run. I am glad we got two competitive games under our belt so we got fitness up, we got sharpness up, we felt the pressure of a big game and now we will be put to the test and I know we are all excited about the challenge.”
CONCACAF Champions League – Quarterfinal schedule
*ET and home team listed first
Tuesday, March 6
20:00 Club America (MEX) v. Tauro FC (PAN)
22:00 Club Tijuana (MEX) v. New York Red Bulls (USA)
Wednesday, March 7, 2018
20:00 Toronto FC (CAN) v. Tigres UANL (MEX)
22:00 Seattle Sounders FC (USA) v. CD Guadalajara (MEX)
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
20:00 New York Red Bulls (USA) v. Club Tijuana (MEX)
22:00 Tigres UANL (MEX) v. Toronto FC (CAN)
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
20:00 Tauro FC (PAN) v. Club America (MEX)
22:00 CD Guadalajara (MEX) v. Seattle Sounders FC (USA)
Home Stadium for the Round of 16 Matches
*Listed in alphabetical order
CD Guadalajara (MEX) – Estadio Akron, Guadalajara, Mexico
Club America (MEX) – Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico
Club Tijuana (MEX) – Estadio Caliente, Tijuana, Mexico
New York Red Bulls (USA) – Red Bull Arena, Harrison, NJ, USA
Seattle Sounders FC (USA) – CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA, USA
Tauro FC (PAN) – Estadio Rommel Fernandez, Panama City, Panama
Tigres UANL (MEX) – Estadio Universitario, Monterrey, Mexico
Toronto FC (CAN) – BMO Field, Toronto, ON, Canada