After a disappointing Saturday outing in South Florida, the Philadelphia Union will quickly be thrown into the season’s most demanding test thus far. Tuesday will mark the opening of the 2023 edition of the Concacaf Champions League, the club’s second competition already this season. With very little turnaround time, here is everything you need to know about Tuesday’s Salvadorian foe.
Based in the capital city of San Salvador, Alianza is not only the nation’s most popular club but also the most successful. Founded in 1958, the White Elephants have managed to win the first-division crown 17 times. Their successful history does not end at just the domestic level, as Alianza managed to win the Concacaf Champions Cup in 1967, a title that translates to the current Champions League competition.
Looking at Alianza’s recent form certainly will not settle any Union nerves. The Salvadorian club currently sits top of the Primera Division with an impressive 19 points from just nine matches. With five wins and four draws to begin their league campaign, Alianza has not lost since October of last year. Confidence will not be an issue for Tuesday’s hosts as they enter the Champions League coming off a 2-0 victory at CD FAS, the reigning champions of El Salvador.
Entering this Round of 16 tie, Eduardo Lara’s Alianza side will rely on attacker Michell Mercado, who has tallied an impressive five goals and two assists this season. Additionally, as part of their 4-2-3-1 system, both wingers will be looked upon for chance creation against a likely rotated Union back line.
Despite Alianza claiming back-to-back league titles before their most recent campaign, the Union will be heavily favored to advance to the last eight of the competition. For reference, Philadelphia’s roster is valued at over 12 times that of Alianza’s. Even with a large crowd and formidable opponent, the Union will be expected to handle business against El Salvador’s most successful club.
The winner of this tie will advance to the competition’s quarterfinal stage to face either Honduran league leaders CD Olimpia or the struggling Mexican side, Atlas.