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Columbus host Tigres as CCC resumes

The Columbus Crew begin their Concacaf Champions Cup quarterfinal series tonight, hosting Liga MX powerhouse Tigres UANL for Leg 1 at Field. Kickoff is set for 7 pm ET on FS1 and ViX.

New England take on Club América

The New England Revolution are chasing a Concacaf Champions Cup upset against Liga MX powerhouse Club América, starting with Leg 1 tonight at their Gillette Stadium home. Kickoff is at 9 pm ET on FS1 and TUDN.

Concacaf Champions Cup returns as MLS takes on giants

Columbus are up against Tigres. The Revs have Club América. It’ll take something special from both teams to move on. Here’s how it could happen.

Columbus take down Tigres if…

If the Crew are the best version of themselves they have a chance. That’s not true of every MLS team, but Columbus are one of the few who can go punch-for-punch with the region’s best.

The problem here is if Tigres get a chance at a haymaker, they aren’t going to miss. The Crew will need to be their typically elite selves on the ball with elevated performances defensively. We here at The Daily Kickoff love the Crew’s backline and their ability to play defense splitting balls out of the back, but the Columbus game model and their shortcomings defensively have them constantly living on a razor’s edge.

Frankly, that doesn’t seem ideal for CCC play. The Crew will be running into teams of equal or better quality from here on out. Teams that can theoretically disrupt their high possession-based game model or expose them on the counter. It’s a frightening world.

It doesn’t help that things have been a little off the last two weeks. The Crew followed up a stunning 3-0 beatdown against New York with a 2-0 loss to Charlotte and a 2-2 draw against Nashville. Columbus were without star striker Cucho Hernández in that draw for what’s been reported as “non-injury related” reasons.

Still, if you were picking any team in this league right now to go out and find a way to be in control against one of Liga MX’s best, you’d put your money on the Crew. Wilfried Nancy seems to find a way in every scenario. And we don’t need to rehash how much of a nightmare this team is in attack, especially if Cucho is available.

Other than whatever has been going on the last couple of weeks, the Crew have typically been at the high level other MLS teams have struggled to find early in the season when balancing MLS and CCC. Tigres might require a slightly higher level. It’s hard to count this team out though.

New England take down Club América if…

If… uh… I’ll be honest here, I’m not entirely sure. Weird things happen in tournaments, but the Revs haven’t looked like they’re interested in competing so far this season. They have one point through five MLS games. Yeah, decent performances in CCC got them to this point, but those wins came against Alajuelense and C.A. Independiente. They’re going from two solid, but manageable teams to the biggest team on the continent.

So, yeah, something special needs to happen. We need to see a version of this group we haven’t seen so far. Carles Gil needs to be on an otherworldly heater. The Revs need to figure out what’s going on defensively that’s caused them to allow 11 goals through their first five games. Maybe, somehow they bring back Djordje Petrovic or Matt Turner for a two-night engagement in goal? Maybe this recent bye week for the Revs fixed everything? There’s a lot on the table here, and only the Gil heater feels truly plausible right now.

Look, América enter this one on top of the Clausura standings in Liga MX after 13 games. They’ve allowed seven goals in that span. They’re living up to the branding. The Revs are nosediving. The gap feels massive. A whole lot has to change incredibly quickly for this to happen.

Other things

Real Salt Lake's Arango named Player of the Matchday: Cristian Arango has claimed MLS Player of the Matchday honors for Matchday 7 after powering Real Salt Lake to a 3-1 comeback victory over St. Louis CITY SC behind his second league hat trick.

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Good luck out there. If you can do it twice you can do it a third time.