For the second time in three years, the New York Red Bulls are readying themselves for CONCACAF Champions League. The regional club competition is a perk of last season's Supporters' Shield success, but the group stage kicks off with RBNY mulling selection issues after Dax McCarty went down with a leg injury. The captain will be out for at least six weeks, which is almost as long as the Red Bulls will be balancing MLS regular season and CCL group stage games.
Kristian Dyer of Metro (no relation) and Big Apple Soccer (and Yahoo and MSG, and maybe a few other places) has reported that Kemar Lawrence, Tyler Adams and maybe Ryan Meara will be starting in this opening CCL game.
Jesse Marsch said Tyler Adams, Kemar Lawrence to start Wednesday. Ryan Meara might start for Luis Robles. #RBNY— Kristian Dyer (@KristianRDyer) August 2, 2016
You have to believe that Sean Davis will also be starting in place of the injured Dax McCarty. "We hate to see our captain go down and we know how much Dax means to our side, but I am looking forward to the opportunity to get out there." said Davis, "I feel like I have already been integrated with the group and played in a bunch of games. I feel confident and the group feels confident as well."
Very often in CONCACAF Champions League games the typical fan doesn't know much about the opposing team. But the club has done its homework and Jesse Marsch has a clear idea of what to expect. "I'm excited for the opportunity for our club representing the league to play in the Champions League and to see how our team holds up, how are style holds up," said Marsch, "You know Antigua presses up too, so it sets up a very active and very entertaining game against them. If we don't get a very good start they have some talented players that can lead in the attack. They are very good and how we use the rotation is very important."
For Shaun Wright-Phillips, who has played in UEFA's Champions League, the CONCACAF version is no less deserving of respect. "Of course we are very excited to play in this competition, but this will be a very tough game. We feel they will come at us and this is why they are going to show us what they are made of," said SWP.
"The away ones will be as difficult as the home ones are. We have to play a professional performance when we are away from home. We believe that when Antigua plays we have to play strong at home. Now as a team we need to come over to the competition and play our game.
We can expect a solid test for the Red Bulls against a side that will be pressing just as they are, and we will see if home advantage can deliver the win RBNY wants to set the right tone for its CCL 2016-17 campaign.