Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Tigres UANL
2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League Semifinals, 2nd Leg
BC Place – Vancouver, B.C.
Wednesday, April 5 – 10 pm ET
WATCH: TSN in Canada, Galavision in USA; Facebook Live
The Vancouver Whitecaps have only one guaranteed way of advancing to the CONCACAF Champions League finals: Beat Mexico's Tigres UANL by three goals or more, no matter the score, in Wednesday's second leg at BC Place.
Win 2-0, after falling by the same score in the away leg last month (in part due to an own goal from center back Kendall Waston), and it's extra time. Any other result, and Vancouver come up short – either on aggregate or the away-goals tiebreaker.
The match still has to be played, obviously – but with so many things that have to go right and so many that can go wrong, Carl Robinson's men are the clear underdogs in this one.
This is the second meeting between the two clubs; Tigres won the first leg 2-0 last month.
The 'Caps face two big questions going into Tuesday, both personnel-related after last week's trade with Columbus Crew SC: How much will they miss winger Kekuta Manneh, and will Tony Tchani be ready to face Tigres in the holding midfielder role?
The answer to the first is a resounding "Who knows?" Manneh, a newly-minted US citizen and US national team hopeful, can be a dangerous player on offense, and Vancouver have need of those – but the Whitecaps have also been in need of shoring up the box-to-box portion of their midfield.
That's where Tchani could come in – if his fitness level is up to it, that is. Until his 26-minute outing off the bench in Vancouver's 4-2 win against LA on Saturday, he had not yet played this season, and Tigres would be a brutal test of his ability to go deep into a match.
- Suspended: Mauro Rosales (cap-tied to FC Dallas)
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT – Brett Levis (ACL tear); Yordy Reyna (foot surgery); David Edgar (PCL, MCL tear)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1): David Ousted (GK) – Sheanon Williams, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, Marcel de Jong – Matias Laba, Russell Teibert – Alphonso Davies, Christian Bolaños, Brek Shea– Fredy Montero
Note: Vancouver come into this match on a high note, after dismantling the LA Galaxy 4-2 on Saturday. Matias Laba led the way with a brace, and Fredy Montero scored his first goal since returning to MLS from overseas. Brek Shea will be rested for the midweek game after sitting out the LA match on a red-card suspension.
At first glance, Tigres' opening-leg victory doesn't look all that impressive. Take away the OG, and the Liga MX side managed only one goal of their own – Eduardo Vargas' insurance tally in the 87th minute.
That was with Vancouver parking the bus all night, though, and they won't be able to do that on Wednesday. With the Whitecaps forced to open things up, Tigres – notwithstanding their current 13th-place status in the 2017 Clausura standings – get a lot more dangerous. With weapons like Vargas, Andre-Pierre Gignac and Javier Aquino, the visitors will be looking to exploit gaps as the Whitecaps look for precious goals.
There's also the experience factor to consider. Tigres know what it takes to get to a final, having finished runners-up to fellow Liga MX side America in last year's CCL.
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: Luis Martinez (cruciate ligament tear)
Projected Starting XI (4-4-1-1): Nahuel Guzman (GK) – Jorge Torres, Francisco Meza, Hugo Ayala, Luis Advincula – Ismael Sosa, Jesus Duenas, Guido Pizzarro, Javier Aquino – Eduardo Vargas – Andre-Pierre Gignac
Note: For all of their CCL success, Tigres have been struggling at the league level of late. They have just one win in their last four outings and are scoreless in two straight since beating Puebla 2-0 on March 5.