Photo by Eric Bolte/USA Today Sports
By FRANCO PANIZO
MONTREAL — For the second game in a row, the Montreal Impact got off to a strong start in an overall impressive first half.
For the second game in a row, the second half proved to be their undoing.
The Impact let an early lead and chance to make history slip away from their grasp, as Club America completed a stirring second-half comeback to pick up a 4-2 victory and win the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League crown on Wednesday night.
Montreal had gotten off to an incredible start in front of the boisterous 61,004 fans that packed into Olympic Stadium for the second leg of the finals, but Andres Romero’s eighth-minute tally did not stand. Like in last week’s first leg, the Liga MX side overwhelmed the Impact after halftime, scoring four straight to win the series via a 5-3 aggregate score.
Dario Benedetto led the way with a hat-trick performance that saw him score the 1-1 equalizer five minutes after the break, and the eventual winner in the 66th minute.
Sandwiched in between those Benedetto strikes was a 64th-minute header from Oribe Peralta that sucked the life out of the crowd. Darwin Quintero nodded a high ball across the goal, and Peralta had to just push it on the open frame.
Quintero also fed Benedetto for the Liga MX side’s fourth tally, which the Argentine forward struck incredibly in the 81st minute.
Montreal got a late consolation prize a minute from the death. Ignacio Piatti played a ball into the path of substitute forward Jack McInerney, who raced to it before slotting a low effort home.
Pushed on by their rowdy crowd, the Impact came out flying in the match and it did not take long for them to strike.
Piatti dribbled by a defender on the right side of the penalty area in the eighth minute and fed Romero, who made a horizontal run of his own before slotting a shot into the back of the net to send the stadium into an eruption of cheers.
Club America nearly tied the game up in the 12th minute, but a close-range header from Peralta was denied by the crossbar before Impact centerback Laurent Ciman cleared the bouncing ball off the goal-line.
The Impact had a glorious opportunity to make it 2-0 and 3-1 in the series on a lightning quick counter in the 24th minute, but Piatti fired a shot at the doorstep too close to Club America goalkeeper Moises Munoz.
While Montreal looked dangerous when hitting in transition through Piatti, Romero and Dominic Oduro, the MLS club’s intensity level fell off in the second half. Club America, who fouled repeatedly to slow the Impact attack, then found the tying goal before opening the floodgates.
In the 50th minute, Osvaldo Martinez clipped a ball into the area that caught Impact centerback Bakary Soumare ball-watching. A wide open Benedetto then hit a stupendous equalizing scissor kick that smacked off goalkeeper Kristian Nicht’s arms and into the back of the net.
Club America then tallied twice within two minutes to take a 3-1 lead. Peralta nodded home his chance after the hour-mark to give America a 2-1 lead, and Miguel Samudio then crossed a ball to Benedetto for another simple finish that all but guaranteed that Club America came out on top.
As champions of the CONCACAF region, Club America will partake in this winter’s FIFA Club World Cup in Japan.
What do you think of Club America’s 4-2 win over the Impact? What would you pin Montreal’s loss on? What does MLS need to do to see a team finally win the Champions League?
Share your thoughts below.
Viva Mexico, the Kings of CONCACAF. Congratulations to Club America, they represent all of us, real true soccer fans. Funny, the Kings of CONCACAF, have the name of our country, yet do no represent our country. As long as we keep signing discards like Villa and Kaka, and losers like Antigoal, MLS will continue to wear backwards underwear in CONCACAF.
Sigh. MLS can’t hold MFL jock strap. In further news Alaska is cold in the winter and the Sky is blue
What a hot take! You must be the most popular girl in your high school.
Montreal had them, America looked lost and very frustrated in the first half.
If piatti scores the second goal, which he had it,then everything would have open for Montreal.
Impact had them, they could have won the game around 3 to 1.
America looked dead in the first half and if they lost the game,their coach would practically be fire and half the team would be gone.
Just like rsl had Monterrey, impact had America where they wanted them.
But we gotta admit, the big players who are payed big money always show up in the big moments.
And Americas payroll is crazy with very good talent.
Now garber must open his eyes and do something with MLS payroll and help teams in the champions.
I also have a big question, why not play the game at saputo stadium. I didn’t see a true home advantage inside the big o, the turf hurt both.
I agree that with a 1-0 halftime lead (and a rash of missed opportunities in the first half), the Impact could’ve done a number of things to prevent the second half unravelling. CA made great adjustments and decided to go after Reo-Coker, who obliged with a comically inept showing as an out-of-position RB… Klopas did not seem to know how to counter-adjust, and it was a beat-down thereafter. In point of fact, Klopas was miserably out-coached in the second halves of pretty much every game in the tournament. That’s why he’s Klopas.
As for your question about the stadium, that’s an easy one. Would you rather sell out a 60k seat stadium or a 20k seat stadium? Particularly if your team is terrible and rarely plays big games? MTL’s fans were great. Noisy, passionate, and there till the bitter end.
Well at least our squads for next tournament look strong: Galaxy, Sounders, Whitecaps, Real Salt Lake and DC United.
One of those 5 has got to step-up.
If there was one good thing to come of MTL’s showing in this tournament, it was the atmosphere and passion their fans delivered throughout the knockout rounds. Just superb, and coming from a fanbase that has every right to feel apathetic. It was one of the very few “signs of life” I’ve seen in a while for this tournament as far as a genuine sense of rivalry goes between MLS and Liga MX. Time for the rest of MLS to step their game up.
It’s really very simple. If MLS and CONCACAF can cultivate this sense of rivalry between the two big leagues (with perhaps some contribution from Costa Rica and others), then the tournament has a future.
MLS has not held up their end in this regard. When the Beckham/Donovan Galaxy sides were in the competition, I was on the point of vomit from the constant sight of Jack McBean and other MLS 0.5 “talents”. Mike Petke similarly shat all over the competition by treating us to a host of NYRB reserve jokers, claiming “his bosses” (who fired him anyway) didn’t value the competition.
Now, it’s true that CCL is not a lucrative competition. The winner gets a lousy $1 million for their entrance into the Club World Cup. With gate receipts and additional revenues, maybe there is $2 million on the table for a great performance. I can understand why teams don’t get excited, particularly given the travel demands.
Maybe there a way for MLS to make this more interesting for participants?
Of coarse Klinsmann just had to stick it to MLS a little and congratulate America on the win.
MLS sucks! Period. Until they stop being tight asses with the coin, they’ll always be Mexico’s b*tches….
I’m from El Paso too, what area. We need an NASL team or USL,what you think.
Don’t get me wrong, I also like ligaMX but we gotta support MLS.
I agree, but MLS need to give more autonomy to individual owners to run their clubs as they see fit. If they want to spend lots of $$$, let them!
I remember we used to have the El Paso Patriots…. El Paso would support a team. Look at the love the Chihuahuas are getting.
Garber does NOT want to win the CCL! He wants to prove himself right that his single entity farce is actually competitive in the larger soccer landscape but alas he is still WRONG!
You got to Anty up MLS if you want to play at the BIG BOY table … Until then you can go sit at the kids table til you’re ready
If Garber strategically prioritizes winning the CCL as a meaningful goal for this league, I will punch him in the face personally. It is a “nice to have” kind of goal, as it has always been.
The mere fact that Montreal, the long-standing (and ongoing) MLS doormat was 45 mins from lifting the Cup tells you all you need to know about what this tournament is really worth as a measuring stick. It’s a highly randomized tourament, that is still won by Liga MX teams because yeah, they are still better (for now),
In fact, I’m not even sure why you are dragging MLS and “single-entity” into this discussion at all. Montreal did not actually qualify via MLS. League structure is pretty much irrelevant.
Like I mentioned earlier, Garber is waiting for the moment where a team like Montreal miraculously wins the CCL Final to say, “See, I told you so”, and tries to convince all of MLS that they were never underpaid to begin with
Sure… but then what is the counter-argument?
I mean, we can call Montreal’s appearance in the final “miraculous” all we want (and it was pretty darn fortunate), but it’s not like MLS teams should be incapable of this. When I look at a team like Seattle Sounders’ Best XI (and I’m not a Sounders fan), I feel like that team could definitely have beaten the Club America side we saw over the two legged final. Not “for sure”, but easily possible.
The problem isn’t salary. There are enough MLS teams with the talent on the books to win this thing, particularly if you accept the reality that a team as inept as Montreal can come within 45 mins of the title. There have been for years. The “real” problem is twofold:
1) Engagement- The best teams just don’t care. Many would actually “prefer” to crash out in the group stage, and save themselves the painful travel in pursuit of an unlikely and ultimately miniscule financial reward. Unfortunately, their fans seem to have followed suit, if you look at the attendance numbers.
2) Inexperience- Once a team does reach the knockout rounds, they need to understand how to prevail in a two-legged “home-and-home” format. Mexican teams and their players have plenty of experience here, given the structure of their domestic competitions. MLS teams do not. Just a couple of rounds of playoff games once a year and that’s it.
Experience matters incredibly here– just look at the failures of teams like Man City in the Champions League and you can see how important it is to manage the risks of tough away ties, and maximize the advantage of home games. MLS teams have been terrible in this regard. Until tonight, MTL actually did a better job here than almost any other MLS team in history.
Where was the defense? There is always momentum shift ………but damn. Soumare, Ciman and Toia were out played and out hustled
Nicht – welcome to the “BIG” leagues, the game looked way too much for him. If Montreal had Rimando or Hamid I believe the score line would be very different
Duka – wow, was trying to be something he’s not….Horrible winger and his completion percentage has to be in single digits….lol
Oduro…..what the….Up top as striker??? Was he just out classed? No quickness or ball control
Jack Mack – had a goal but someone should tell him striker or not one of his responsibilities coming in fresh in the second half is pressure and a some defensive responsibilities…not walking
At the end of the day class usually rises and prevails. Montreal were the darlings of the tournament and they can hold their heads held high. MLS is clearly 5-10 years at least behind Liga MX but our time as league will come though. We have to remember how young our league is and we can’t just go doubling or trippling the salary cap over night. The league needs to continue to develop at the right pace in terms of spending on transfers, developing infrastructure, TV deals, grass roots movement, yada yada yada.
Sorry, but if MLS doubled or tripled the cap it would help in a short time period. Yes, every league needs strong home grown players to succeed, and Liga MX has that in spades, but if your imports are 4-5 Robbie Keane level players instead of 3-4 Nigel Reo-Cockers, Montreal has an infinitely better chance to win that game. It’s not just at the top of the roster though, but more at the middle where MLS get’s burned. This is where a cap rise would help the most.
This said, America did a very nice job of making some MLS standards like Dilly Duka and Oduro look like ballers out there.
And then you would have an influx of top end foreign talent squeezing out the mid-level North American players. You can double or triple the salaries of the Dilly Duka’s and Jack McInerney’s but that’s not going to make them better players. The league would become watered down of top quality NA players. Do you remember what happened the last time a North American league over-inflated? Spoiler-alert, the league collapsed and folded.
“If MLS doubled or tripled the cap it would help in a short time period”
Only if the teams involved actually gave a sh*t. NYRB actually had a team with about 5x the salary cap, and they couldn’t even find their way out of a group involving the same sorry Montreal Impact squad.
The best MLS teams have the money, and they have the talent. They just don’t put it to work in this tournament. By choice. Winning the CCL is simply not something they care all that much about. The eventual champion is the only team that makes any sort of decent purse– and it ain’t much.
Arguments about “depth” and “fixture congestion” are a complete joke in explaining why top MLS franchises do not field better sides for this tournament. MLS has some of the lightest fixture congestion on the planet. Most of these guys play once a week (or less) and don’t bother getting their fingernails dirty with things like the US Open Cup or CCL. Compare that against a top UEFA team and it’s just laughable.
Liga MX simply owns this confederation, congrats to Montreal for their amazing tournament.
Hilarious troll comment. Owns the confederation? I almost forgot that MTL almost… wait… did… embarrass America at Azteca.
What we’re all waiting for is MLS to finally MAN UP and pay its players a competitive salary to compete with their CONCACAF peers, namely Liga MX.
Don Garber, on the other hand, is waiting for the MLS team to miraculously win the CONCACAF CL final to prove that he doesn’t have to pay his league’s players a competitive salary to be “successful”.
It’s not a troll comment when it’s factually correct. There really is no need for excuses or to get this defensive.
I would love to hear your counter argument. I don’t see how MX “owns the confederation” from a National Team or Club Team perspective, especially when MLS teams manage to over achieve in the CCL. Please enlighten me.
I guess your argument will be that MX teams have won the CCL for the past X number of years, and therefore are obviously better.
My point is that MLS has competed against and defeated very good MX teams, without the type of depth or quality that those MX teams have had.
I would love to see a top team in the MLS, equipped with a full bench (of equal pay), play against a team like Club America. Instead, Montreal, who are one of the worst teams in MLS, and are currently devastated by injury, took them to the limit.
But yeah, MLS is still light years behind winning the CCL.. I’m sure that’s exactly what Club America were thinking when they drew to the Impact at Azteca.
Mexican team won the Concacaf champions league every single year since it was established. This is called domination. Although MLS teams get wins against Mexican teams from time to time, they normally lose and it is clear which league bosses the tournament.
Not sure why you’re getting so defensive about this. Liga MX is clearly the most dominant league in CONCACAF. I can’t see how you can argue otherwise. Yes MLS teams have kept it close at times, but so have Costa Rican and Honduran teams which I would bet has even less resources than MLS. This doesn’t take away from the fact that Mexico dominates this tournament every year.
Kevin quit being a baby. Liga MX DOES own the confederation right now. MLS winning a few games here and there does not change that fact.
which isn’t surprising given the vast difference in payrolls. which is why Garber’s talk is SO cheap about how competitive MLS is compared to the world and that we can compete with anyone. and if they think the CBA that was just signed is going to change anything, they’re insane.
MLS may not be ready to spend the money needed to win the CCL on a CONSISTENT basis, but until then, all this talk about how high the level of MLS is from internal people, like Garber, needs to stop. i love MLS and MLS is a good league, but hopefully this is a dash of reality for a lot of fans who can’t accept criticism of MLS.
Alright, 12 hours and a dose of sobriety does wonders.
My aim wasn’t to be “defensive”, or “a baby”, or to suggest that MLS is better than MX.
I have two points to make, though maybe they’re hard to decipher.
One is that “domination” from a competitive perspective is the wrong word to use when describing the results of MX teams vs. MLS.
The fact that a hamstrung Montreal team nearly upset one of the best teams in MX, and even earned a result at Azteca, absolves them from being “dominated”. They lost, Club America won, but MTL and the MLS wasn’t “dominated”. In fact, throughout the tournament, the only win that an MX team earned vs. MLS was in the second leg of the final, though I guess that’s the one that really matters, anyway.
My second point is really just that MLS can’t expect to win this league until it approaches MX on salary parity, and that Garber is a butt.
I love how Garber came on at half time to talk to Univision’s commentators about how he was hoping for an MLS Champion. And all I coukd think about was how jacked America’s payroll must be compared to Montreal’s.
But that awesome first Montreal goal though.
Let the whining begin.
At the end of the day America is the better team, the fact Montreal hung in there for as long as they did is pretty impressive.
Someone should have told Montreal that Reo-Coker turns back into a Pumpkin in the second half.