ANTIGUA GFC vs. NEW YORK RED BULLS
ESTADIO MATEO FLORES, Guatemala City
Sept. 27, 2016 (CONCACAF Champions League)
8 pm ET (Facebook.com | UDN)
The New York Red Bulls look to book their place in the knockout stages of the CONCACAF Champions League as they travel to Guatemala to meet Antigua FC in their final Group F match on Tuesday. They can advance with as little as a draw (and even a one- or two-goal loss, thanks to their 3-0 home victory over Antigua in August), while a large loss would leave the door open for Antigua to nip ahead of them with a win over El Salvador's Alianza in the final group match next month.
Two clinches, one week?
RBNY officially banked their spot in the 2016 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs on Saturday thanks to their 1-0 home win over Montreal. They'd be pleased to confirm their first-ever CCL quarterfinal berth on Tuesday, though both achievements are likely to be seen as basic goals for Jesse Marsch and his ambitious team, who have their sights set on capturing more hardware this season after falling agonizingly short in the 2015 postseason.
Who goes there
Maybe the biggest question for Marsch: How many of his regular starters make the long midweek journey to Central America? A heavy loss in Guatemala would throw their CCL hopes into uncertainty, but New York host Philadelphia – their closest pursuers in the Eastern Conference standings – in league play on Saturday. The red side of New York will be watching closely to see who appears in the starting XI at Estadio Mateo Flores.
Home away from home
Speaking of stadiums...this isn't actually Antigua's ground. The small club usually plays at little Estadio Pensativo in the historic highland village they call home, but that venue falls short of CONCACAF standards. So Tuesday's match is at Guatemala's national stadium in the capital city, an hour or so east of Antigua. Will enough of their fans flock to the Mateo Flores to create an uncomfortable atmosphere for the visitors? That remains to be seen.