Top Stories

Montreal Impact move within reach of CCL final after first leg win vs. Alajuelense

Victor Cabrera Montreal Impact 16

photo by Eric Bolte/USA Today Sports


A dream and potentially historic run continued in Canada on Wednesday, as the Montreal Impact moved within 90 minutes of the CONCACAF Champions League final with a shut-out victory over Alajuelense.

Riding a pair of early goals from Ignacio Piatti and Victor Cabrera, the Impact grabbed a 2-0 win in the first leg of their semifinals series against the Costa Rican club. Piatti opened the scoring nine minutes into the game off of a feed from Dominic Oduro, and Cabrera added the insurance tally in the 15th to put Montreal in the driver’s seat ahead of the April 7 rematch in Central America.

Playing without the injured Justin Mapp and with head coach Frank Klopas not on the sidelines due to suspension, the Impact grabbed a two-goal advantage in front of a home crowd of 33,675 at the Olympic Stadium to keep hopes of becoming the first MLS team to win the tournament alive.

Montreal’s rabid start set the tone for the victory. Oduro hit in a cross from the right, and quarterfinals hero and rookie forward Cameron Porter let it roll to Piatti for a strong finish.

Before Alajuelense could shake off the goal, the Impact struck again. Marco Donadel’s corner kick found its way to Cabrera, and the Argentine defender pushed the ball into the back of the net to put the Costa Rican side in a big hole.

Alajuelense improved as the game wore on, especially in the second half, but could not find the favorable away goal that would have made things less bleak ahead of the return leg at Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto.

Montreal is looking to become just the second MLS team and first Canadian side to reach the Champions League final. Real Salt Lake is the only other MLS club to have made to the championship series, but lost, 3-2, to Monterrey in 2011.


What do you think of the Impact’s 2-0 win over Alajuelense? Feeling confident about Montreal’s chances to reach the final? Could you see this Impact team making history and winning the tournament?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I actually think that Porter might be worthy of the USMNT consideration, especially considering our dearth of strikers.

  2. I thought Montreal was unlucky to not score another. Piatta and Cameron looked very sharp in attack. Odurro was spotty, I did not catch him defending too much, but he did have a couple moments that were very good going forward.

    The Impact’s defense was not overly challenged and was let off when Alajuelense failed to connect on some defensive errors. The defense looked good when it stayed organized against Alajuelense’s slow build-ups, but looked lucky and chaotic as it dealt with counter attacks mostly through some good individual defending.

    If Porter continues to show like he did last night, he will get into at least the U-23 national team conservation. He has good size and speed. Against Alajuelense he was able to beat defenders 1v1 and provided good hold-up play, winning the ball and laying it off for teammates going forward.

  3. Couldn’t understand why Montreal was content to just sit on the 2-0 lead for the most of the second half. I’m not at all sure that 2-0 will be enough.

    • Because giving up an away goal would have been a potential disaster, and they have games coming up they needed to rest some of their attackers for

    • yeah agree with both.

      2-0 might be tough, even with Montreal’s ability to counter. Just one goal scored down there means that they can give up 3 and still win.

  4. As ridiculously third rate as the CCL is in nearly every aspect, I still love watching (even though the production quality of the broadcasts rivals middle school flag football). The bizarre, bootleg nature of the whole thing is pure CONCACAF. Unpredictable, unlucrative, poorly-refereed, competitively imbalanced, bizarrely scheduled, rarely prioritized by anybody until the very final stages (by which point teams may have undergone entire facelifts), it is everything we have come to expect from our region. Never change, fellas.

    • Yeah, MLS doesn’t care. At the moment.

      MLS teams barely have enough depth to get through their own regular seasons right now. When that starts changing, expect them to start taking this more seriously…because the really big step for them would be a chance to take down some of the truly big dogs at the Club World Cup.

      We’re still probably 5-10 years from seeing an MLS team get there, unless Montreal pulls off another shocker, but hey, we can dream.

      • Yeah the World Club Cup is really the only prize on the table that would get most MLS clubs out of bed. But even that competition is a bit of a joke. I mean, if Jeonbuk Motors managed to pull a couple of upsets and grab a WCC title, would anybody call them the “Best Club in the World” without a wink and a snicker?

        It really is a pity, because the UEFA Champions League is such a great competition. But CONCACAF just has too many fundamental flaws (even assuming the logistical/scheduling dilemmas are resolved)…. All the money is concentrated in exactly two leagues and the imbalance will only grow wider in time. Sooner or later, Costa Rica will be unable to compete (they have been Mexico’s only historical challenger at the club level but they just won’t have financial or competitive resources to keep up with the growth if things persist like this).

        Bringing back Superliga might even be more sensible than prolonging the farce of CCL. Doesn’t seem that many of the other CONCACAF nations will miss it.

      • Yeah…but honestly, I could care less if they snicker. Eurosnobs and Europeans will always snicker at soccer from anywhere outside Europe…let ’em. I still enjoyed, say, watching Arsenal’s presenters grudgingly hand over the Emirates Cup to New York Red Bulls a few years back, after NYRB took down PSG and then Arsenal at their own preseason tournament. Thierry Henry even managed to not look smug about it.

        Actually, come to think of it, I think Arsenal is winless against NYRB…they lost the exhibition game in New York last year too. That happens often enough, people are forced to start taking you seriously whether they particularly want to or not.

        Still be nice for MLS teams to get a chance to lift a meaningful trophy against the Euro champs. You don’t get many chances like that, particularly over here. Again, that happens a couple times, the competition starts meaning something.

      • If it winds up an all-Costa Rica final that would be good for the region also. We’re always talking about Concacaf being a 2-horse race but Costa Rica is really coming on.

        Now we just need MLS to raid those teams for players this summer!

      • If Montreal wins this thing that could have an impact, pun intended.

        They seem better attacking than they do defending. Hopefully they can get an early goal in CR.

      • Jack was pure CONCACAF, as well…. though some credit must be given to his homeboy Chuck Blazer, who is still plucking embezzled $100 bills out of his Jurassic beard as we speak.

    • So when MLS teams lose in the Champions League it’s an indictment on the quality of MLS compared to other leagues in the region but when they win it’s because the Champions League is a mickey mouse competition. I get it.

      • Exactly.

        Now respond in a whiny condescending tone. Use above as an example.

        Throw in a “:third rate”, add 6 other non-flattering adjectives, then mention Europe to show you are a superior fan. Then you are there.

      • That’s a fallacious argument. It’s certainly possible to argue that the CONCACAF Champions League is really poorly run competition AND criticize MLS teams for not taking it seriously.

        The fact is that this tournament is still our only to see MLS teams test themselves against foreign clubs in games that count. The OP’s point is in addition to that, not refuting it.

      • Yes. It is a mickey mouse competition, so when MLS teams lose (as they usually do), it is “an indictment on the quality of MLS.” If they actually make it to a final (happened once, right?) or even win one, they can finally show to the world that they won this mickey mouse competition.

    • Yes, the CCL is a little bit of a blast from the past. It perfectly illustrates the weird position of MLS and US soccer in general, which dearly wanted to emulate, and be respected like, their European counterparts but still have a foot in the much dodgier world of Central American soccer.

    • Unlucrative?

      33 000+ Wednesday, 38 000+ against Pachuca, a few group matches (3) at about 10 to 15k spectators. Tickets at minimum 15 bucks, plenty of booze and merchandise sold, I can go on… Plenty of money to be made in all that!

      (That’s without mentioning phenomenal exposure, particularly to the CCL winners (at FIFA Club World Cup).

  5. Our American teams can’t win a tournament dominated by Mexican teams so we outsource the work to a Canadian owned company?!? From a place where they speak French?!?

    It is a sad day for America when France has to fight our battles.

  6. Allez Montreal!

    This is exciting for MLS, especially because it looks like a favorable matchup in the final is likely – should they make it. Herediano beat a 10 man Club America 3-0 in the other semi first leg if I’m not mistaken.

    That said I’m also very prepared to be disappointed. Every time I get up for an MLS squad in this tournament they promptly sh1t the bed.

  7. Congrats to Montreal securing the win at home. Of all the MLS sides in the tournament, Montreal was certainly the least likely side to make a run in the CCL in my estimation. This is why I’m in marketing and not running a soccer club…

      • Disagree! When I saw DC Uniteds roster that was MLS 1.0 and almost unchanged in 3 years, I knew they would be the first knocked out!

        Montreal had some good signings and would’ve been better if they signed Alberto Gilardino. If they are able to win this, Montreal needs to get a quality DP forward and DP midfielder in the summer transfer window.

      • DC was knocked out in the knockout round.

        Definitely not one of the first to be knocked out. MLS-CONCACAF-not matter how you slice it.

        Not one of the first.

    • I actually think for the purposes of the tournament they actually represent Canad and not the their only means of qualification is through the Canadian Championship which is played between the 6 pro teams in Canada. That being said it is nice to see an MLS side actually take this competition seriously…way too sick of hearing fans and clubs say the MLS regular season is so important when now 6 teams from each conference make the playoffs…I think you can sacrifice a few games here and there and still make it in if you are a good enough side

      • Very effective use of the Ramble

        Montreal didn’t take it any more serious than any other MLS team.
        If you think they did, show me examples.

      • Montreal spent 2 weeks training at altitude in Mexico to prepare for their match at Pachuca. DC left 2 days before the match to prepare for Alajuelense.

Leave a Comment