• Monday Oct 27, 2008

    Atlante, Montreal play for top of Group C in Champions League

    It's all over but the seeding.

    With both already qualified for the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League, the Montreal Impact and Atlante FC meet in Cancun, Mexico this week to determine the Group C winner and a top seeding for the knockout round.

    Montreal requires only a draw Tuesday to secure the top spot, while Atlante needs a victory to finish atop the group.

    Last Tuesday's 1:1 draw between the Impact and CD Olimpia of Honduras at chilly and rain-soaked Saputo Stadium in Montreal eliminated Olimpia but also guaranteed the tournament's surprise team a spot in the elimination round.

    The Impact, who play in North American soccer's second rung United Soccer Leagues, lead the group with 11 points and remain the only undefeated team heading into the final round of Group Stage.

    Most on the squad are cautiously optimistic about their chances of advancing further when the quarterfinals get under way in the last week of February.

    "We've given ourselves the opportunity to show that we have a high level of soccer in this country." said Montreal Impact defender Nevio Pizzolitto, who was recently voted the squad's player of the year. "I feel like we are finally getting some respect. That being said, we have not won anything yet. We want to be in the final and we'll have to give everything we have to get there."

    Atlante cemented its spot in the next round with a 2:0 win in Port-of-Spain against last- placed Joe Public a week ago, and despite a slow start, have started to rally.

    Atlante and Montreal drew 0:0 in the Canadian leg of the series on 24 September, and both sides have had an entire week to prepare for the rematch. The USL season ended earlier this month and Atlante's game against Tecos over the weekend was postponed due to a waterlogged field at Quintana Roo Stadium.

    International prestige will be on the line in Tuesday's other match up between CD Olimpia and Joe Public, which will decide third place in the group.

    Olimpia won their first encounter 3-1, adding to Joe Public's disappointing international campaign this year.

    Olimpia - which was idle this weekend in Honduran league play - could tie Atlante on points if Montreal wins in Cancun. But even an Olimpia victory in Tegucigalpa would leave it short based on Atlante having beaten the Lions 1:0 on 18 September and drawing 1:1 on 8 October.

    Joe Public could climb as high as third place in the group with a win in their last game against Olimpia, but will need to do without defender Deon Carlyle Mitchell, who will be suspended due to an accumulation of yellow cards.

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