Photo by Eric Bolte/USA Today Sports
By RYAN TOLMICH
The last time the Montreal Impact took the field at Olympic Stadium, they made history with rookie Cameron Porter’s stoppage-time finish. Now in the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals, the Impact have a chance to make history once again.
The Impact host Costa Rica’s Alajuelense (8 p.m., Fox Sports 2) on Wednesday in the opening leg of the tournament’s semifinals.
The Impact can become just the fifth of 18 MLS sides to emerge from a CCL semifinal, with the most recent being Real Salt Lake in 2010-11. In addition, the Impact can also become the first Canadian team to ever advance to the tournament final.
To do so, the Impact will need to slip past Alajuelense, which topped D.C. United in the tournament’s quarterfinal stage after initially thrashing the MLS opposition, 5-2, in Costa Rica.
The Impact will hope to avoid placing themselves in a difficult position heading into the second leg in Costa Rica, but Frank Klopas’ side will be without playmaker Justin Mapp, who was seriously injured during a loss to D.C. United in the opening weekend of MLS action.
In addition, the Impact will be without Mapp’s likely replacement, Andres Romero, leaving Dominic Oduro or Maxim Tissot as the likely replacement out wide.
As for Alajuelense, the the Costa Rican side will present a much different opponent than the Impact’s previous dance partner, Pachuca. The Costa Ricans prefer a slow, possession-heavy style that is sure to test a young, still-gelling Impact side.
Alajuelense currently sits third in the Costa Rican Primera Division with 18 points from 13 matches. Despite the exploits of forward Jonathan McDonald, who is second in the league with six goals, Alajuelense is in poor form lately with just one win in eight games. That win came in the quarterfinal victory over D.C. United.