SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Arriving here ahead of the CONCACAF Champions League final second leg, Mexican club Monterrey received a chilly reception. The temperature in the lower 50s, about 30 degrees lower than the when the side trained in the morning back home in Mexico.
Furthermore, low gray clouds and the threat of snow sometime in the next day or so provided los Rayados with a hint of what to expect Wednesday night when they face Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium (10 pm ET, FOX Soccer/TeleFutura). RSL and Monterrey are tied, 2-2, on aggregate.
“It’s a one-goal difference and, independent of the results that we’ve earned, this team has shown a lot of character,” Monterrey president Luis Miguel Salvador told the club’s official website. “I don’t think that Wednesday will be the exception. We are conscious of what we’re playing for.”
A handful of Monterrey fans and a few members of the Mexican media welcomed the team bus when it pulled up to their downtown Salt Lake hotel. However, the players and coaching staff refused to talk to the press. Manager Victor Manuel Vucetich said he and the players would discuss the match after training on Tuesday.
Monterrey are coming off a 1-1 draw at home to Puebla. That result left los Rayados on the outside of the Mexican playoff picture ahead of a crucial visit to Chivas de Guadalajara next weekend.
But the players say they are concentrating on Wednesday at this point and will worry about their domestic situation after the match.
“I believe that in both competitions we have the possibility to stay alive,” center back José Maria Basanta told MLSsoccer.com. “The outcome is in our control, so that is positive. We have the first test this Wednesday, and hopefully we can win it because this is a tournament in which we have battled hard to reach this moment. We want to win.”
Several surprise faces were in the traveling squad. Club captain Luis Perez and striker Aldo de Nigris, both of whom picked up injuries in the first leg and are reportedly out for the next few weeks, made the trip north.
The club did not give an official reason for the inclusion of Perez and de Nigris in the traveling contingent. Members of the Mexican media told MLSsoccer.com the club wanted to include them in any potential victory celebrations.
Even if he were healthy, De Nigris would miss the match through suspension after picking up a yellow card in the first leg.