Action from the August 7, 2014, CONCACAF Champions League match between the Impact de Montreal and the San Jose Earthquakes. (Photo courtesy of the Impact de Montreal)
MONTREAL, Canada – The names and faces may have changed, but there’s been one constant when it comes to the Impact de Montreal’s play in the CONCACAF Champions League.
The Impact does not lose at home.
That trend continued Wednesday night with a 1-0 victory over Major League Soccer rival San Jose Earthquakes in the opening match of the group stage for both teams at Stade Saputo.
The victory lifted Montreal atop Group 5 and extended the Impact’s home unbeaten streak to six CONCACAF Champions League matches (4-2-0) since 2008.
Actually, Montreal has also done pretty well outside the province of Quebec, as well. In 11 all-time Champions League encounters, the Impact has only lost twice – in Mexico – to Atlante and Santos.
“You want to win your first game at home starting the group stage in this tournament,” midfielder Patrice Bernier said. “It was a good start for us and it will bring us some momentum moving forward.”
Impact head coach Marcos Schallilbaum has confidence in his entire roster, not just a regular starting XI. That belief paid off against San Jose with a solid effort in the defensive third.
“We don’t have a Team A and or a Team B,” Schallilbaum noted after the match. “We saw today Collen Warner have a very good game, and Evan Bush in goal, he stopped a penalty shot. We have always said we have depth and we always field a Team A. We played a good game defensively today.”
Schallilbaum made that statement as the Impact deal with a logjam of fixtures between MLS, the Champions League and the 2013 Amway Canadian Championship, which was took place earlier in the season.
Montreal not only played in all three competitions, but the squad has had success, winning the Canadian title by knocking off the Vancouver Whitecaps on away goals in the two-legged final.
That triumph came after rallying from a 2-0 opening leg deficit in the semifinals to score six goals in the second leg to beat rival Toronto FC, 6-2, on aggregate.
The club has also been bolstered by a positive debut by Argentine Hernan Bernardello. The 27-year-old midfielder, who signed as a designated player on July 23, proved dangerous on set pieces throughout the San Jose match, setting up the winning goal by Hassoun Camara.
“We saw his quality right away,” Schallilbaum said. “He takes good corners and free kicks and that becomes an extra weapon in our arsenal. Thankfully, we used that weapon to score the winning goal on a perfectly timed play with Hassoun.”
Despite following up the win over San Jose with a 2-1 loss at Chicago on Saturday, Montreal is in fourth place in MLS’s Eastern Conference, only four points behind first-place Sporting Kansas City. It takes on visiting D.C. United in league play on August 17, before heading to Guatemala City for a meeting with Heredia in Champions League four days later.