The Seattle Sounders need a point to win the group. Monterrey basically needs a point to advance. Both sides will put effort forward, but while the American side has been strong if you read the preview over at MLSSoccer.com you know that Monterrey hasn't been great lately. In this edition of three questions we'll dive a little deeper into the reasons behind their struggles with FMFStateOfMind editor Eben. In news that will please some and excite others this will be the last match in Electricity Yellow. But the new 3rd kit is going to be just as "divisive."
SaH: Monterrey is on a slide recently in league play. What's the cause?
FMFSoM: It's been a very difficult season for Monterrey. A series of key injuries earlier in the season really hurt the team, and things really seem to have just snowballed after a few losses back in August. The Rayados also have shot themselves in the foot with a recent string of player expulsions. Monterrey played three league games in the month of September (2 losses, one draw) and had a total of five players shown red cards in just those three matches. Not the type of discipline you expect from a Victor Manuel Vucetich coached squad.
Vucetich himself has been the subject of some controversy this season. There were reports a few weeks back that he had lost a few of the veterans in the locker room. Coming into this season Vucetich was one of the most successful, most highly-respected coaches in Mexico, and now suddenly it's looking very possible that this is his last season in Monterrey.
Things went from bad to worse for Monterrey this past weekend when they were thoroughly embarrassed in a 0-3 home loss to Club America -- a Club America side that had gone six games without a win. The result brought on some sustained boos from the home fans. No one played particularly well, but the Rayados midfield was highly disappointing in the loss. Walter Ayovi and Severo Meza were poor, Jesus Zavala was lackluster, and Neri Cardozo was invisible on the left wing. Cardozo is a key component of the Monterrey attack, and it's a telltale sign that the team will struggle when there is no positive action down the left side.
SaH: If a team overcommits to defending Sauzo which Rayados player is most likely to cause trouble?
FMFSoM: Usually the other player to cause trouble would be Aldo de Nigris, but he is out with an injury and will not be taking the field in any capacity this week. Another dangerous weapon for Monterrey this season has been Cesar Delgado. The midfielder returned from injury against Club America on Saturday and played well as a second half sub. Before his injury he had a nice run of three goals scored in four games. If he plays on Tuesday, he's certainly one for Seattle to look out for. Neri Cardozo is also a dangerous weapon, but he will need to play much, much better than he did on Saturday if he wants to make an impact against Seattle.
SaH: Is Monterrey in a position where they can afford a CCL push?
FMFSoM: Yes and no. Monterrey are obviously struggling in league play, where they have won just once in their last six matches. The Rayados are currently sitting just on the edge of a Liguilla playoff spot, and with the Primera standings as tight as they are this season, they need every point they can get in their last four league games. Adding to this pressure, Monterrey also play their biggest game of the regular season -- against arch-rivals UANL Tigres -- this coming weekend. There is no Monterrey regular season match that carries greater importance than the Clasico Regiomontano against the cross-town rivals.>
That said, though, Monterrey also recognizes the importance of the CCL. As defending champions they know what it means to win, and with things not going so well domestically right now, they are looking for any kind of positive momentum. A tie all but guarantees passage to the knockout round, but a win would do wonders for this squad as it prepares to finish up the Primera regular season.
SaH: Projected lineup?
FMFSoM: Expect Monterrey to bring out a fairly strong lineup. Four players, though, will definitely be missing: Aldo de Nigris due to injury, and Jesus Zavala, Hiram Mier and Darvin Chavez who are all participating in the Pan-American Games.