New York Red Bulls vs. Alianza FC - September 13, 2016 - CCL ExLink
USA Today Sports / Alianza FC

New York Red Bulls vs. Alianza FC | 2016-17 CCL Match Preview

RED BULL ARENA,  Harrison, New Jersey
Sept. 15, 2016 (CONCACAF Champions League)
8 pm ET (UDN,

The New York Red Bulls will look to go a long way towards securing their place in the CONCACAF Champions League Knockout Round on Thursday, when they’ll host Salvadoran club Alianza FC at Red Bull Arena.

The Red Bulls currently sit atop the Group F standings with four points through two matches. Alianza are second in the group with a 0-0-2 mark through two games.

Red Bulls aim to move to precipice of Knockout Round

They can’t technically clinch the group on Thursday, but the Red Bulls would essentially lock things up in Group F with a win against Alianza.

New York would move to seven points with a victory. A win would eliminate Alianza from contention and mean that the other side in the group, Antigua, would need to beat the Red Bulls in Guatemala on Sept. 27 by at least three goals before defeating Alianza on Oct. 18. Considering New York cruised to a 3-0 win against Antigua back on Aug. 3, we’ll call that outcome unlikely. The Red Bulls would basically be through with a home win on Thursday.

New York look to improve on first Alianza result

Thursday’s meeting will be the second of the CCL between New York and Alianza. The sides drew 1-1 in their first matchup on Aug. 16, getting a 71st-minute equalizer from newly signed forward Omer Damari to cancel out Alexander Larin’s 54th-minute goal.

The Red Bulls will be looking to improve on that result on Thursday at Red Bull Arena, where they’re 10-2-2 in 14 MLS contests this year.

More squad rotation likely for Marsch

Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch ran out a healthy dose of reserves in both of New York’s previous CCL matches, a tactic he’ll likely use again on Thursday.

New York are currently in a pitched battle with Toronto FC, New York City FC and the Philadelphia Union for a top-two seed in the Eastern Conference, and Marsch will need his first-teamers rested and ready for the Red Bulls’ trip to Toronto on Sunday. He’ll likely throw out some lesser used players – who have shown well in New York’s previous CCL games – on Thursday to keep his regular starters fresh for Sunday’s crucial contest at BMO Field (5 pm ET; FOX, FOX Deportes in the US, TSN2 in Canada).