Desperation lead to tension and thrills in an entertaining CONCACAF Champions League semifinal second leg between Montreal and Alajuelense, and the Impact are ecstatic to have made club and national history on Wednesday night.
Frank Klopas’ side is the first Canadian side to make the CCL final, and will look to become the first Major League Soccer team to win the title in CCL era (DC United and the L.A. Galaxy won the CONCACAF Champions Cup in 1998 and 2000, respectively).
[ MATCH RECAP: Alajuelense 4-2 (0-2) Montreal ]
And despite an unfortunate racial undercurrent to the post game thanks to Alajuelense fans making monkey noises at Dominic Oduro, the Impact can be happy with their on-field triumph in a game filled with good-looking goals.
“We knew we were coming to a difficult place to play with a tough team,” said Impact head coach Frank Klopas. “They have a tremendous push with the quality of players they have and their fans. We scored an away goal, which was very important. The quick goal in the second half brought them back into the game. It was a great semifinal and a great moment for our club, the city of Montreal and Major League Soccer.”
“The score line isn’t important for me,” explained Bakary Soumare. “It’s the result that counts. We were here to get to the next round and we did what we needed to do that. Their last goal came as they pushed everyone forward, trying desperately to score in the final moments. We are very happy with what we’ve been able to accomplish and now our goal is to win the cup.”
The final appearance is a solid statement for MLS, whose schedule puts its league in a poor position entering the knockout rounds. Consider that Montreal’s Marco Di Vaio was among the tournament’s leading scorers, but left the club when last season’s MLS campaign was over. Now with a different squad still finding match fitness — at least compared to its traditional calendar-following opponents — the Impact are 180 minutes or so from history.
Montreal will next face either Herediano or Club America, with the Costa Rican side leading 3-0 after one leg. That second leg is Wednesday in Mexico at 10 p.m. ET.