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A guide to Antigua GFC for New York Red Bulls fans

Notes on RBNY's first CCL 2016-17 opponent.

Ned Dishman/Getty Images

The New York Red Bulls are in Group F of this year's CONCACAF Champions League, with Guatemalan club Antigua GFC and Salvadoran side Alianza. On paper, RBNY is the favorite, but the games must be played. First up for the Red Bulls: a home game against Antigua.

No team wants to have to win its road games. The 2016 Red Bulls particularly don't want to: they've won just two matches away from home all season - one in MLS; one in US Open Cup. There will be three games to play after this in CCL, so this is not a must-win match, but it is a should-be-won game for RBNY. The Red Bulls want to win this group, and they cannot afford to let their MLS form slide. Three points at home gets CCL off a strong start and allows for the possibility that later games in the group will be less meaningful and can be treated more casually.

RBNY head coach Jesse Marsch has some difficult decisions to make with regard to his CCL lineup, but  his objective for this match is very simple: win; win big.

Antigua is not being taken lightly by the club - at least, not in the pre-match words spoken on the subject of this game - but it is quite simply imperative for a team that wants to do well in CCL to win its group stage home games. The tournament can get very difficult, very quickly if that goal is not met.

Here's a quick look at what RBNY is up against in its CCL 2016-17 opener.

How they got here

Antigua qualified for CCL 2016-17 by winning the 2015 Apertura of the Liga Nacional de Guatemala. It was the club's first league title, and this year sees its first appearance in CCL.

In last year's Apertura, Antigua finished second in the regular season table, before progressing through the playoffs to beat Guastatoya in the final. And now they are in CCL.

What they have done since

In the 2016 Clausura, the team slipped to fifth in the league table, and was eliminated by Deportivo Malacateco in the playoff quarterfinals.

Currently, the Guatemalan top flight is four rounds in to its 2016 Apertura. Antigua's early-season form has been good but not great: two wins and two losses for a mid-table (fifth) position in the 12-team league.

Players to watch

In its first four league games of the new season, Antigua has scored eight goals. All of the scoring has come from two players: Agustin Herrera and Fabian Castillo.

31-year-old Herrera has been a reliable scorer since moving to the Guatemalan top flight in the summer of 2013. In three seasons in Guatemala, he's delivered double-digit goals for three different clubs: Coatepeque, Comunicaciones, and now Antigua (for whom he scored 11 in the league last season). He has five to his name already in the new season. Herrera also has notable CCL experience: he scored five in the 2008-09 edition for Santos Laguna.

New signing Fabian Castillo has scored Antigua's other goals so far this season. He joined the club this summer, after several years in the Argentine lower leagues.

Elsewhere in the squad there is considerable experience of regional soccer. Manfred Russell is a 27-year-old Costa Rican who has played CCL in the past with Saprissa. Fredy Thompson is a veteran of CONCACAF soccer; the 34-year-old has more than 90 caps for Guatemala. Twenty-four-year-old Kendel Herrarte is getting close to 20 caps for his country and has played CCL several times for prior club Comunicaciones.

If you've watched CCL in recent years, you may remember Enrique Miranda. In the 2012-13 tournament, Heredia was drawn into a group with Montreal Impact and San Jose Earthquakes. The Guatemalan side shook its MLS opponents, winning both its home games. Miranda scored the club's winner against San Jose.

Also keep an eye out for 23-year-old defender Jose Carlos Pinto, who has started to get his national team's attention.

Antigua will be hoping for a point out of this game; RBNY's task is to take three.