SANDY — Monterrey is confident ahead of tonight's CONCACAF Champions League final at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Perhaps too confident.
In his post-game press conference following last week's draw in Mexico, Monterrey coach Victor Vucetich didn't seem too concerned about the result. Initially he praised his team for dominating the match, saying a few errors were all that cost the Rayados the match.
Gradually he started to provide his opponent with more and more bulletin board material.
"We know exactly what their movements are and what their characteristics are. With the way we played today, we're confident of getting a good result over there," he said. "Really, they didn't have any chances except for one from (Alvaro) Saborio that Jonathan (Orozco) saved. But aside from this, the opportunities were few.
"They played the game they wanted. They dirtied the game a lot, but that's normal."
RSL coach Jason Kreis believes Vucetich crossed the line with his comments, but he refused to get into a war of words.
"I think he had a whole lot to say after that game, and in my opinion way too much. So I'm not going to say anything," said Kreis. "We'll decide and we can talk about it after Wednesday night with how things pan out."
Even though Monterrey outplayed RSL in the first leg, it didn't win, and that's been a theme the past month and a half.
The Rayados last win was a 2-1 triumph over America on March 19 in league play. In their seven games since in league play and the Champions League, Monterrey has six ties and one loss.
The string of ties has put Monterrey in jeopardy of missing the playoffs with one game remaining in the season. The Mexican league is divided into two halves, the Apertura (opening) and Clausura (closing). Each half consists of 17 league games and playoffs. Monterrey won the Apertura season, but it's in danger of missing out on the Clausura playoffs.
That reality puts Vucetich in a precarious position as he picks his lineups for tonight's match.
Of course the Rayados want to win the Champions League for the first time in franchise history, but making the Mexican league playoffs is equally, if not more important.
Monterrey's last league game is at Guadalajara this Saturday, and it's a virtual must-win situation if the Rayados hope to claim one of the eight playoff spots. It could still clinch a playoff spot with a tie, but it's unlikely.
With two starters suspended tonight, Aldo De Nigris and Jesus Zavala, Monterrey's depth figures to get tested as Vucetich tries to pick lineups that can help Monterrey win two very important matches this week.