Before the MLS season opener against the Portland Timbers at Red Bull Arena, the New York Red Bulls have one more CONCACAF Champions League game to play - a road fixture against Club Tijuana of Liga MX in the Quarter-Finals.
Unlike the Red Bulls’ prior CCL foes such as Antigua, Alianza and Olimpia - Tijuana are on an entirely different level from any other team the Red Bulls have played in the Jesse Marsch era.
Despite their 11th place finish in the Apertura 2017 table, Los Xolos have started Clausura 2018 like the ‘85 Bears, allowing just six goals in 10 games and sit just four points below 1st-place Santos Laguna. And this time, the Red Bulls won’t have the benefit of playing in a neutral, empty stadium - but a hostile, possibly-capacity Estadio Caliente.
Unlike certain teams that recently bowed out of the CCL, the Red Bulls’ brass plan on taking the tournament seriously to the end, and their starting XI should reflect that with a best XI selection.
Here is the RBNY predicted XI @ Tijuana:
GK Luis Robles
LB Kemar Lawrence
CB Aaron Long
CB Aurelien Collin
RB Michael Murillo
DM Marc Rzakowski
DM Tyler Adams
LW Kaku - With the MLS season just days away, what better way to acclimate Kaku to Red Bull soccer than with a start in a competitive road match against an elite Liga MX team?
AM Sean Davis
RW Daniel Royer
FW Bradley Wright-Phillips
Bench: Meara; Lade, Escobar; Muyl, Valot, Etienne, Jr.; Rivas
It’s hard to imagine that the Red Bulls will waltz into Estadio Caliente and get a win when so many elite Liga MX teams have fallen flat on their faces trying. But a strong showing of any kind - even if it’s a loss by one goal - would go a long way in giving the team confidence for the second leg (and the MLS season).