HARRISON, N.J. – For the first time in the history of the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, an MLS team twice beat a Mexican side en route to the knockout rounds. The New York Red Bulls showed that not only are they better than a prominent Mexican club but that the gap between the two leagues is shrinking.
The Red Bulls swept their quarterfinal series with Club Tijuana, Tuesday night’s 3-1 win preceded the week before by a 2-0 result in Mexico. MLS clubs historically have struggled against Mexican teams, rarely winning south of the border. But in the Red Bulls win and even in Toronto FC advancing past Tigres in their quarterfinal series, it is clear that the two leagues are more competitive than the narrative would suggest.
“If you look at our team and how we played tonight, it’s very close. I think we can compete with any team in Liga MX. It’s a matter of how we come out and how we prepare to play each team. What we have with our coaching staff and how they prepare us for each and every game, we take every game like it’s our last and it’s a competition,” midfielder Tyler Adams said following the win. “We’re determined to win every game we step on the field to play and we have a certain philosophy that we emphasize to play. I think that just for us now, it’s getting guys experience and using these games to get as sharp as possible and get guys as fit as possible.
“As far as the gap comes, I think we have guys within our locker room and depth on our team that we can compete with any team now.”
Mexican teams have won every reiteration of the Champions League since 2008, with MLS sides only twice ever making the finals. But the Red Bulls made an impression on Tuesday night, becoming the first-ever MLS side to ever sweep a series from a Mexican side.
RED BULLS NOTES
- Sources say that forward Brian White and defender Niko de Vera will sign with the New York Red Bulls II, joining the USL side. The club opens their USL schedule this weekend and other signings are likely to come over the next couple of weeks to round out the squad. White and de Vera were the Red Bulls first two selections of the MLS SuperDraft.
- The Red Bulls depart for Utah this Thursday in what will be their first meeting with former head coach Mike Petke. Fired following the 2014 season, Petke is now the head coach at Real Salt Lake. In his two years as head coach of the Red Bulls, Petke led the Red Bulls to the Supporters Shield in 2013 and then to the Eastern Conference finals the next year.