The New York Red Bulls have been difficult to beat this year at their Red Bull Arena (pictured) home in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo: Mexsport)
HARRISON, New Jersey -- The New York Red Bulls will play one of their most important home games of the year at Red Bull Arena on Thursday night.
A win over Alianza in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League would eliminate the Salvadoran power and bring them within a point of clinching the Group F title.
In the sides’ first meeting on August 16 in San Salvador, Omer Damari’s 71st minute goal helped the Red Bulls to a 1-1 draw, after Alexander Larin put the host into the lead with a brilliant free kick nine minutes after the break.
"We already have spoken about how difficult it was to go down to El Salvador and pick up all three points," said New York midfielder Sean Davis, 23, who has played in 19 MLS games this season. "We know we want to get all three points. When we play at home, Red Bull Arena has been a fortress.
"Hopefully, we can take a good step forward."
The Red Bulls are 11-2-2 at home in 2016, including a 3-0 SCCL triumph over Antigua GFC (0-1-1, 1) on August 3.
With Alianza's SCCL hopes on the line, the Red Bulls expect to face a determined foe, one which has seen each of its four all-time outings in the competition be decided by one goal or fewer.
"We know they're going to sit a little bit back and take the opportunity to counter us," midfielder Felipe Martins commented. "They have some players who can make a difference. We have to take care of those players."
While the Red Bulls have been difficult to beat at home, they have squandered several two-goal leads. The latest result came Sunday, when a 2-0 lead turned into a frustrating 2-2 draw with D.C. United.
Coach Jesse Marsch said he has addressed that problem, telling his players about "not being afraid to having leads."
"When we're up 2-0 or 1-0 late in the game and teams are throwing stuff at us, to stand tall, to not be worried or anxious, know how to deal with moments, win your battles to not invite pressure into our box, to figure out ways to maybe get the third [goal] or keep pushing the game," he concluded.