New York City FC are out to clinch a place in the last eight of the Concacaf Champions League on Wednesday night.
Here’s the Keys to the Match, presented by Tri-State Ford…
Finish the Job
NYCFC are in the box seat going into the second 90’ of the Last 16 tie vs. AD San Carlos following an explosive 5-3 win on the road but Head Coach Ronny Deila will be warning that the job is only half done.
San Carlos managed to strike twice in quick succession on Thursday night, which should be all the evidence needed to reinforce the message that the Boys in Blue can take nothing for granted.
A 3-0 win for San Carlos is the minimum they need to overturn the deficit and advance, so Deila will be keeping his side grounded and asking his side to go out and win again on Wednesday to assure safe passage to meet Alianza or Tigres in the quarters.
For Deila, remaining focused on every play will be key to advancing.
While there were question marks over a couple of the goals his side conceded on Thursday night with the call on a free-kick and a potential offside, the Norwegian was most frustrated by the strike given up on the stroke of halftime in Costa Rica.
Deila told reporters: “I got irritated over the last situation in the half. I was saying to the players that now we need to keep playing wide because we were creating chances – and then we start to play inside and get a counter-attack on us.”
However, Ronny was pleased with the control enjoyed by his team over the course of the 90’.
He added: “I think we had OK control of the game all the time. They had some chances sure but for me, it’s about concentration and discipline."
History is certainly on NYCFC’s side in terms of precedents for teams leading by two goals after Leg One.
MLS teams have been up by two goals going into the second leg on six occasions in Champions League history and those six teams have advanced every time.
No MLS team has ever arrived into a second leg with five away goals but the players will pay no attention to the history books when Wednesday night rolls around, instead focusing on the task in hand.
H9 Up and Running
It was no surprise to see our guy H9 heading up the Concacaf Champions League Team of the Week after he became the first MLS player to score a hat-trick in the competition.
With his first full preseason under his belt at NYCFC, Héber hit the ground running in some style and the Brazilian will be hungry for more on Wednesday night at Red Bull Arena – a stadium he scored in on his first visit last season.
MLS is Back
Preseason is well in the past. This CCL second leg will be the first of two matches NYCFC will play this week, with the return of MLS taking place on Sunday with City’s trip to Columbus.
Will that factor into Ronny’s selection policy for this Champions League second leg? With two games in short succession, Deila and his staff will try and find the right recipe to make it two wins and a memorable week for all the City Fam.
Bring it on.