Whitecaps want to bring momentum into Champions Cup first-round tilt

This is only the Whitecaps’ second time playing in Mexico, having lost at Tigres’ Estadio Universitario stadium 2-0 in 2017

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Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Vanni Sartini is looking for his side to continue its momentum in CONCACAF Champions Cup play on Wednesday.

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Vancouver and Mexican side Tigres are set to meet for the second leg of their first-round matchup. The two teams battled to a 1-1 draw in the first leg last Wednesday, with the Tigres securing the tying goal with a stunning free kick by Andre-Pierre Gignac in the dying minutes.

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This time, Sartini wants his team to hold on for a win.

“We need to keep the momentum in this game and focus on what we need to do on the pitch,” he said in a Zoom presser from San Nicolas de los Garza, Mexico.

This is only the Whitecaps’ second time playing in Mexico, having lost at Tigres’ Estadio Universitario stadium 2-0 in 2017.

“We know it’s a very important game, we know it’s a Champions League game, we know it’s an elimination game in a very difficult environment … the outcome, if we are doing well, will take care of itself,” Sartini added.

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The Whitecaps took the lead in the 32nd minute of the first leg, courtesy of veteran Damir Kreliach’s first goal for the club.

Defender Luis Martins whipped in a deep cross to striker Brian White who nodded the ball into Kreilach’s path, slotting it past Tigres goalkeeper Nahuel Guzman.

The game marked Sartini’s 100th match in charge of the Whitecaps, with the Italian having compiled a 38-33-29 record.

But, as he did the week before, Sartini pointed out that his players are further behind in their pre-season preparation than a Tigres side that is undefeated through six league matches, including victories over Leon and Chivas.

“What I’ve seen this week is a normal process. We’re a week more in pre-season. The intensity in training has been better than the week before,” he said. “The week before we were coming back from Spain, coming off a flight.”

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To that effect, Sartini said he and his coaching staff have focused not on the number of training sessions but rather the intensity of the sessions to match their opponent’s high-pressing, aggressive style.

“I think we’re in a good moment. We’re going to the maximum state of form in a couple weeks, we’re still not there yet,” he said.

The Whitecaps faced Tigres last year in the Leagues Cup, losing 5-3 on penalties after regulation concluded in a 1-1 tie.

Vancouver entered the competition having beaten CF Montreal to win the Canadian Championship.

Fellow Canadian entries are Canadian Premier League champion Forge FC and CPL regular-season winner Cavalry FC.

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reference: theprovince.com

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