MONTERREY, MEXICO – Carl Robinson called it “the game of a lifetime.”
And for many players in the Vancouver Whitecaps FC locker room, that’s exactly what Tuesday night’s CONCACAF Champions League semifinal first leg vs. Tigres UANL will be.
KICKOFF: 7 p.m. PT | TV: TSN1 (live stream on CONCACAF Facebook) | RADIO: TSN 1410
A capacity crowd of over 42,000 is expected at Estadio Universitario, also known as El Volcán, as the ‘Caps test their mettle against the reigning Mexican league champions.
The team that scores more goals over the two legs will advance to the tournament final, with away goals serving as the tiebreaker. Whitecaps FC, who remain unbeaten in this year’s edition of the Champions League, will host the decisive second leg on Wednesday, April 5 at BC Place (tickets on sale now).
- TSN to broadcast Tuesday's semifinal
- Photos: 'Caps train at El Volcán
- Know thy enemy: An in-depth look at Tigres UANL
- Mallett: 'It's a great experience for the football club'
- Montero, Rosales draw on Mexico experiences
Keeping it close: As Robinson so often says, these two-leg series can’t be won in the first leg. But they can certainly be lost. And that has never been more true as the ‘Caps descend upon Estadio Universitario as massive underdogs against a powerhouse Tigres side. The goal for Vancouver will be to keep themselves within striking distance heading into the second leg on April 5 at BC Place.
Dynamic duo: The two Tigres players to watch are forwards André-Pierre Gignac and Eduardo Vargas, who may just be the best attacking partnership in the CONCACAF region. Gignac is a French international who appeared in the 2010 FIFA World Cup and 2016 UEFA European Championship. Vargas, meanwhile, led his native Chile to the 2016 Copa América Centenario title with a tournament-high six goals – one more than Lionel Messi.
Making history: Only two MLS teams have ever won a game in Mexico. And an MLS team has never won the CONCACAF Champions League, a 24-team competition between the domestic champions from North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. The ‘Caps have already made club history by reaching this stage of the tournament – can they make some more down in Mexico?
Kendall Waston (CB) vs. André-Pierre Gignac (FWD): Kendall Waston is no stranger to the type of atmosphere we’re going to see at Estadio Universitario, having played at Deportivo Saprissa and the Costa Rican national team. And he’s going to need to be on his game Tuesday against the likes of Gignac and Vargas for the ‘Caps to have a chance. You know he’ll be busy.
Whitecaps FC midfielder Russell Teibert will be serving a one-match suspension on Tuesday due to caution accumulation.
“It’s what life is all about. Week in week out, you see a story somewhere that there is an upset. Do I think it’s impossible? No. It’s difficult, but it’s not impossible.” – Carl Robinson