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A guide to the 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals for New York Red Bulls fans

CCL 2016-17 is back from its winter break. The quarterfinals kick off on February 21 - here's what to expect.

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League returns to action this week with the first knockout round. The eight teams in the quarterfinal round were seeded one through eight based on their group stage results. Vancouver Whitecaps were number one, while the New York Red Bulls finished number eight.

That is why RBNY and Vancouver play each other in the CCL quarterfinals, and why this overview of the round starts with the matchup featuring two MLS teams.

But first a reminder of all the quarterfinal pairings, seedings, and the rules of the tournament.

The Basics

The eight remaining teams are seeded and paired as follows:

NY Red Bulls (8) vs Vancouver Whitecaps (1)

FC Dallas (7) vs Arabe Unido (2)

Deportivo Saprissa (6) vs Pachuca (3)

Tigres UANL (5) vs Pumas UNAM (4)

Teams play each other home and way, with the winner decided by aggregate score.

The higher-seeded teams will have home field advantage in the series, hosting the second leg. Away goals are the tie-breaker in the series after the second leg. If the teams are tied - and the away goals tiebreaker doesn't separate them - after normal time of the second leg, then the match goes into extra time. Away goals no longer apply as a tiebreaker during extra time. If scores remain tied, then the series will be decided by a penalty shoot-out.

Quarterfinal 1: NY Red Bulls (8) vs Vancouver Whitecaps (1)

1st leg: February 22 - kickoff: 8:00 pm, Eastern

2nd leg: March 2 - kickoff: 10:00 pm, Eastern

How they got here:

Vancouver finished perfect in the group stage winning all four of their matches and knocking out fellow MLS side Sporting Kansas City in the process.

Despite tying both their away games during the group stage, New York made it count at home against Alianza and Antigua.

Where they are now:

It will be interesting to see how this series plays out with both teams still in preseason form. The Whitecaps will be without four important players in Christian Bolaños, Fredy Montero, Yordy Reyna and Nicolás Mezquida. All four of these players will likely carry the brunt of Vancouver's offensive production this season and will be sorely missed.

The Whitecaps are managed by former Red Bulls midfielder Carl Robinson. The Caps toured Wales earlier this preseason, playing three games and winning twice. They also took part in the Portland Timbers preseason tournament and drew to Minnesota United and Real Salt Lake before falling to the hosts.

The Red Bulls, on the other hand, will likely be able to include some guys who were previously unavailable like Mike Grella, Alex Muyl and Damien Perrinelle. The Red Bulls team has not changed dramatically from last season (though there have been dramatic changes). Though preseason has been shorter than usual due to Champions League, the players might regard familiarity with each other and the club's basic tactical plan as an advantage against an opponent that had equally inadequate time to get fully fit for the start of competitive play. The Red Bulls have only played domestic opponents this preseason and have picked up a couple of wins.

Players to watch:

Cristian Techera - The Uruguayan was tied for the most goals in the group stage with five. Vancouver will rely heavily on the attacker to produce if they want to advance to the next round.

Gonzalo Veron - Veron has been an active member of the Red Bulls preseason so far, featuring in all four matches. The Argentine will be key in making the team's 4-2-2-2 formation work moving forward and will be needed to take the pressure off of Bradley Wright-Phillips.

Prediction for first leg:

1-0 Red Bulls win. The Whitecaps are missing too much offensive firepower and will likely be defending a lot in the first leg.

Quarterfinal 2: FC Dallas(7) vs Arabe Unido(2)

1st leg: February 23 - kickoff: 8:00 pm, Eastern

2nd leg: March 1 - kickoff: 8:00 pm, Eastern

How they got here:

FC Dallas finished the group stage undefeated with two wins and two ties over Suchitepéquez and Real Esteli .

Arabe Unido was the dark horse of the group stage, knocking out three-time champion Monterrey, as well as Haiti's Don Bosco, and finishing with a perfect record.

Where they are now:

FC Dallas has been very active this offseason and has newfound depth as a result of it. The additions of Roland Lamah, Cristian Colman and Javier Morales will surely excite Dallas fans. Dallas preseason preparation included a trip to Argentina where they took on San Lorenzo and River Plate amongst other local teams.

Arabe Unido have not got off to best start in the Clausura of Panama's top flight. Currently in seventh place through seven rounds, the team will enter this week's game fresh off a 5-3 defeat the hands of league leaders Tauro FC.

Key Players:

Cristian Colman - the Paraguayan might find the non-MLS teams of CCL present a more familiar style of play than he will find when FC Dallas gets its MLS campaign started. Certainly for this tournament and its MLS Cup ambitions, FC Dallas hopes the front man adjusts well and quickly.

Jose Gonzalez - the leading scorer from the group stage of the tournament, Gonzalez has been key to La Furia Azul’s run thus far and will need to continue to be for them to advance.

Prediction for first leg:

FC-Dallas 1-1 Arabe Unido

Quarterfinal 3: Deportivo Saprissa (6) vs C.F. Pachuca (3)

1st leg: February 21 - kickoff: 9:00 pm

2nd leg: February 28 - kickoff: 10:00 pm

How they got here:

Saprissa knocked off the Portland Timbers and Dragon in the group stage, winning two and drawing two.

Pachuca finished the group stage nearly perfect with three wins and one tie, eliminating Olimpia and Police United.

Where they are now:

Since the group stage of this tournament, Saprissa is a vastly different team, having lost three (soon to be four) players to MLS clubs, and one of their leading scorers in the group stage, Rolando Blackburn.The Central American giants have also been struggling with injuries of late and will be forced to field a less-than-ideal squad against Pachuca. Saprissa will be without former Red Bull(and future Timber) Roy Miller this week as the defender is out injured. The team currently sits in fifth place in the Costa Rican league table as injuries have really taken a toll.

Pachuca enter this Tuesday's match coming off a loss to Monterrey, 1-0. The team is in sixth place in the Liga MX Clausura standings. Los Tuzos finished the 2016 Apertura in second place and did not make any big name signings this offseason. Pachuca have won CCL four times, last winning the 2009-10 edition.

Players to watch:

Hirving Lozano - He had a stellar 2016 breaking into the Mexican National team and has continued his form in 2017 with 3 goals in 7 games for Los Tuzos. Lozano was joint leading scorer of the group stage with five and is one of the best players remaining in this competition.

Marvin Angulo - he has missed Saprissa last few games with an injury, but has been given the green light to feature on Tuesday. Angulo is the key to Saprissa offense and will need to have a big game for Los Morados to have a chance.

Prediction for first leg:

Pachuca 3- Saprissa 0

Quarterfinal 4: Tigres UANL (5) vs Pumas UNAM (4)

1st leg: February 22 - kickoff: 10:00 pm, Eastern

2nd leg: March 1 - kickoff: 10:00 pm, Eastern

How they got here:

Pumas knocked out W Connection and Honduras Progreso in the group stage, dropping three points on the road to the Honduran team.

Similarly, Tigres dropped just three points in the group stage, eliminating Herediano and Plaza Amador.

Where they are now:

Tigres most recently defeated Veracruz, 3-0, but have struggled early on in the Liga MX Clausura. They currently sit 13th in the league and may deem the league more important than the CCL. Tigres star Andre-Pierre Gignac did not feature much during the group stage because he was likely deemed a surplus to needs, but it will be interesting to see if he is used against a fellow Liga MX side in the Champions league.

Pumas have gotten off to a slightly better start and sit seventh in Liga MX , just 5 points off leaders Toluca.  Last time out Pumas tied, 3-3, with Tijuana. The team has lost just one of its last six league games, but is also winless in it last three.

Players to watch:

Pablo Barrera - The diminutive attacker had three assists for Pumas in the group stage and will be needed to spark the team's offense.

Eduardo Vargas - The Chilean star was brought in by Tigres last month and has the talent to carry them to the championship.

Prediction for first leg:

Tigres 2- Pumas 0

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