New York Red Bulls forward Alex Muyl (white jersey) attempts a shot against visiting Antigua GFC in a Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League match on August 3, 2016, in Harrison, New Jersey, USA. (Photo: Mexsport)
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador -- Despite recording a 3-0 victory over Antigua GFC in its Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League opener two weeks ago, New York Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch doesn’t want his team to be overconfident.
Alianza FC will welcome the Major League Soccer club to the Estadio Cuscatlan in its Group F opener Tuesday night.
"It's normal for MLS teams and Mexican teams to be treated as favorites in these tournaments, but that is dangerous position to be in," remarked Marsch at a press conference Monday. "You always have less to lose if you're the underdog."
Marsch expected the Salvadoran side to offer stiff opposition, especially at home. The Albos boast several players with international experience, including goalkeeper Oscar Arroyo, defender Alexander Larin and forward Rodolfo Zelaya.
"We know the fans are passionate, we know the players are passionate," Marsch, 42, continued. "It doesn't matter who's favored once the whistle starts. It's who wants it more. We know Alianza is going to put everything they have into it.
“It’s a big opportunity for them, to make a big statement in the first match of the tournament. They’re a good team. They’re good with the ball. They press at times. Physically, they're going to make it hard for us. We'll be prepared for that. We like combative matches. We’ll come down here and be aggressive.”
The Red Bulls are coming off an intense 3-1 home win over the Impact de Montreal on Saturday, so they haven't had much time to recover physically.
A draw in San Salvador would put New York into the drivers’ seat with two matches to play.
"We know a result here really sets up well in our group," expressed Marsch. "Our focus right now is doing whatever it takes in getting a result."
Four games into the 2016 Salvadoran Apertura, Alianza (1-0-3, 3 points) sits in 11th place in the 12-team league.
"We have watched Alianza a lot," Marsch concluded. "We think they have been very unlucky with some of their results."
NOTES: In their only previous SCCL visit to El Salvador, the Red Bulls and FAS played to a 0-0 draw on September 24, 2014.