MONTERREY, Mexico - Monterrey finds itself in a familiar position heading into the second leg of its Liga MX semifinal series against Club America on Saturday. The two sides drew 2-2 in the opening match on Wednesday.
Just a few short weeks ago in the CONCACAF Champions League final, the Rayados were knotted with Santos following a 0-0 first leg draw. Victor Manuel Vucetich's team went on to lift the trophy with a 4-2 second-leg triumph, despite falling behind by two goals after 50 minutes.
The difference on this occasion, however, is that Monterrey will not be at the friendly confines of the Estadio Tecnologico. Its task is made larger by having to go on the road to Mexico City and trying to get a result at the Esatdio Azteca, where the Aguilas are unbeaten in nine of 10 2013 Clausura league/playoff games (the only loss came at the hands of Monterrey rival Tigres, 2-0, on May 4).
Vucetich knows that his players have the ability to overcome adversity. They've done it before and he is certain that they can dip into those reserves of experience to do it again.
"These are the events we have lived and, with these events, the team has overcome some hardship," said the 57-year-old. "it is a team that has the mentality and has proven that through the years.
"Everyone knows that a goal is a minimum difference, we have the elements and men to improve on that aspect, and overcome a rival."
The Rayados' chief reiterated what he stated after first leg: a win is the result that will be necessary to progress to the final.
"I think we need to have that certainty, that trust," he commented. "We know that the difference is minimal and, in that sense, the objective is to win, anything less, we go.
"I think we should search for the goal no doubt, we must have this slogan. We are convinced and that is what we have to do."
In their only Liga MX, Clausura meeting, Club America defeated Monterrey 2-1 on January 5 at the Azteca. Walter Ayovi gave the visitors a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute, but the five-time CONCACAF champion equalized six minutes before the break through Jesus Molina. Rubens Samueza struck for the winner in the last minute of regulation.
The team that emerges from the pairing advances to the Mexican final and secures a place in next season's Champions League.
There is no doubt that Monterrey would relish the chance to compete for an unprecedented fourth-consecutive CONCACAF title. Club America, though, will have other ideas and an equal desire to return to the regional stage.