The New York Red Bulls turned in one of the most impressive performances so far in this year’s Concacaf Champions League when they put Club Tijuana to the sword in the quarterfinal stage. But they view semifinal opponents Chivas Guadalajara as a markedly more difficult challenge.
That was the message from head coach Jesse Marsch and defender Michael Amir Murillo in RBNY’s Tuesday press conference ahead of Wednesday’s first-leg clash with the Mexican titans at Estadio Akron (10 pm ET | Univision Deportes, go90.com).
“With the environment here in Guadalajara, playing at elevation and playing in front of these fans in this stadium, I think it’s a bigger task,” said Marsch. “It’s a tougher match for us. It’s going to require us to play even better than we did [vs. Tijuana].”
The Red Bulls stunned Tijuana 2-0 in the first leg at Estadio Caliente before finishing off Xolos with a fairly emphatic 3-1 win at Red Bull Arena in the return fixture. Marsch sounds prepared for a much tighter affair in Guadalajara on Wednesday, however, hailing the all-Mexican club’s menacing frontline.
“There are areas of the game we think we can gain advantages, but we have to do it with the idea in mind that we don’t want to expose ourselves,” he said, “because specifically the attacking players for Chivas are very talented. Players like Pizarro, Pulido, Godinez, Brizuela. They’re very, very good attacking players. We’ve studied them a lot. Our defenders are aware of their qualities. Now it’s about execution on game day.”
Marsch did note, however, that the away-goals rule – which he believes MLS teams have grown more comfortable with in recent years thanks to its adoption in the MLS Cup Playoffs – benefits road teams who play proactively. So RBNY’s signature high-pressure game will not disappear entirely this week.
“We’re not coming here to defend for 90 minutes,” said the coach. “We like to go after games, we like to go after teams. We like to run. We like to press. And we will do that [Wednesday]. It sets up for a game that may be ugly at times, but one in which two teams that will be really aggressive going at one another.”
Murillo echoed that view.
“Chivas, I think, play a riskier style [than Tijuana] with young players and a lot of talent,” said the Panamanian defender. “This game will be a spectacle for everyone.”