MONTREAL, Quebec – This is it. The Montreal Impact will host Club América at 8pm EDT on Wednesday night, at Olympic Stadium, in the second and decisive leg of the CONCACAF Champions League finals (TVA Sports, 98,5FM).
The Impact continued to make history in the first leg of this series, last Wednesday, earning a 1-1 draw at the storied Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. The team is now in position to become the first Canadian club and the first MLS club ever to win the Champions League title and represent CONCACAF at the FIFA Club World Cup.
Despite all this, the group doesn’t feel any extra added pressure.
“The guys are loose,” said head coach Frank Klopas. “We’ve been in a position where each step is a new chapter in our history, so we know how to approach it. We don’t do anything different. It’s business as usual.”
Being quietly confident doesn’t mean that the Impact doesn’t understand the magnitude of this game.
“As a player, it’s a great opportunity to put ourselves in a position to make history,” explained Nigel Reo-Coker. “We are in a good spot to put this city on the world football map. Opportunities like this don’t come around too often and we have to give a true account of ourselves. Despite some decisions that have gone against us, we managed to stay strong as a team and make the final, in front of our home fans no less, which makes it an even greater occasion.”
The Impact is undefeated at home in the CONCACAF Champions League with a record of eight wins and three ties, including nine shutouts, but need a win or a 0-0 draw to clinch the title. A 1-1 tie would lead to extra time, while a tie by a greater score or a loss would mean the streak of Mexican champions continues.
Club América played a huge game this past Sunday night, a Clasico against Chivas Guadalajara with first place potentially on the line, but the Eagles managed just a 1-1 draw at home. Striker Oribe Peralta was rested in order to be ready for Wednesday night’s matchup in Montreal, while Argentine midfielder Rubens Sambueza left Sunday’s tilt with an injury.
Regardless, no one is going to take Club América lightly.
“They are a very good team with a number of good players,” explained Klopas, “But we know what to expect. We respect them, but we don’t fear them.”
“It’s going to be a difficult game against a good team. They have some great players on their side, but so do we,” added defender Laurent Ciman. “The key for us will be to find a way to win and if we keep them off the score sheet, then we’ve done our job.”
Midfielder Dominic Oduro has been on a roll in Champions League, registering four assists in his last three games, but the Bleu-blanc-noir will be without the hot hands of goalkeeper Evan Bush, who is suspended for the game.
While the home side is ready for the challenge, all the Impact players emphasize the importance of having the 12th man on their side for a little added motivation for this huge contest.
“I urge everyone to please, please come early to the stadium,” pleaded Klopas. “I know it’s not easy to get around at Olympic Stadium, so come early to be there right from the warmup to make sure there is an incredible atmosphere.”
“We are urging our fans to make sure they get behind us and support us and create an atmosphere in the stadium that will be remembered for many years to come,” added Reo-Coker.
The Impact reminds supporters to arrive early at Olympic Stadium at 7pm for the team warming up at 7:15pm and to be a part of a huge blue-white-black mosaic prior to kick off. The organization also invites supporters to arrive early in order to avoid traffic around Olympic Park and the ticket queues to buy or pick up tickets, as well as at the entrance, due to security procedures. It is highly recommended that you use the metro (access via the Pie-IX station).
For more information on how to get to Olympic Stadium: http://parcolympique.qc.ca/comment-se-rendre