Steven Lenart (left) of the San Jose Earthquakes attempts a head during a 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League match against the Impact de Montreal. (Photo: Denis Concordel/www.widgic.com)
SAN JOSE, California.- The first of three United States-Mexico pairings in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals will kick off on Tuesday at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, California, when the San Jose Earthquakes host Toluca.
They are at different stages of their domestic campaigns – Toluca has completed 10 rounds in the Mexican Clausura and sits just three points behind leader Cruz Azul in second place, while San Jose doesn’t open its Major League Soccer season until March 15.
It’s a challenge United States international Chris Wondolowski believes his team is ready for following six weeks of preseason.
“That’s what we’re gearing up for and [getting] ready for,” Wondolowski told MLSsoccer.com. “I think it’s a great test, just kind of see where we are. It’s definitely going to be a big battle, but I love those.”
San Jose booked its berth in the knockout stages by finishing atop Group 5, edging the Impact de Montreal and Heredia on goal difference. Toluca, meanwhile, won Group 6 with maximum points from four matches.
The Red Devils arrived in San Jose on Sunday afternoon coming off a 3-0 win at home over Puebla two days earlier. Wilson Tiago Mathias (27’), Raul Nava (55’ pen) and Carlos Esquivel (78’) all scored in helping their team bounce back from a 1-0 loss to Cruz Azul the previous weekend.
“We’re happy, motivated by the team’s good momentum, with a significant synergy to reach the playoffs and with the championship as the objective,” said Toluca goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera.
The return match is scheduled for March 19 at Estadio Nemesio Diez, but the two-time CONCACAF champion is focused squarely on Tuesday.
“We come with the mindset to get a good result, go to Toluca calmer and wait for the next game,” expressed Nava, who leads the CCL with six goals.
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Toluca