The Black-and-Red have an extremely tall task ahead of them tonight when they face Alajuelense at home at RFK. United lost the first leg of this matchup by the score of 5-2, they are currently in the CONCAF Champions League quarterfinals. To advance, United will not only have to win tonight, but it must be by three goals (4-1, 3-0) or outright (4-0) to win the aggregate.
There is history for United to draw upon, there have been seven other occasions on where a team lost the first leg and bounced back to win the second game and advance. Will United be lucky number eight or will the three goal deficit prove to be too much of a hole?
If they wish to accomplish that goal and make history, they have to learn from their mistakes the first go round. Alajelense got off to a great start, punching in three goals in the first half, including a penalty kick to get things started. United was a tad sloppy, as expected at the start of any season, but their mental errors played a large role in the defeat.
It’s quite evident that Alajuelense looks like a team in midseason form (they are halfway through their season) while United looks like a team that is in fact in preseason (they are). While most will be watching to see if United can climb out of the hole and advance, it’s just as important if not more, to see what their quality of play is like tonight.
Starting with the back line, they can’t afford to lose the ball deep in their end and give opponents point blank shots. It’s imperative that the Black-and-Red get into a sold groove and rhythm. Especially on the defensive end, the back line being in sync is paramount. Strong defense is what powered them through last season.
On the attack, they must take their time when possessing the ball. Make good runs, timely passes and create scoring opportunities. If they can avoid self inflicted errors, United certainly will give themselves an opportunity to make history. They are a much better side than they showed in the first leg.
While tonight’s game is important, keep in mind that the home opener is this Saturday against Montreal. The Black-and-Red will certainly be trying to get in form to start their league season off well.