Action from the August 7, 2013, CONCACAF Champions League game between the visiting San Jose Earthquakes (left) and the Impact de Montreal, played at the Stade Saputo in Montreal, Canada. (Photo ciurtesy of the Impact de Montreal)
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – While the Impact de Montreal could survive with a loss or a draw in Tuesday’s CONCACAF Champions League encounter at the San Jose Earthquakes, either result would eliminate the host from contention.
Obviously, there’s a lot at stake when the Major League Soccer rivals meet at Buck Shaw Stadium.
The Impact (1-0-1, 3 points) is in second place in Group 5 behind Guatemala’s Heredia (2-0-0, 6 points), which will play its final two group-stage games on the road. The Earthquakes (0-0-2, 0 points), who lost their first two matches on the road, need to win twice at home to stay alive.
Both teams are coming off of disappointing results over the weekend. San Jose – unbeaten in 14 straight MLS matches at home -- played the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps to a scoreless draw, while host Montreal fell 2-1 to the Columbus Crew.
"We should have done better," said Earthquakes midfielder Corello Cato after the Vancouver tie. "We have to score: it's that simple."
As does Montreal, which has brought its top guns here – Alessandro Nesta, Marco Di Vaio and Patrice Bernier.
“We realize the importance of this game,” emphasized midfielder Felipe Martins. “When the games count three points, it is the same thing.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s the Champions League or MLS. For me, when it counts as three points, it is a big game.”
A CCL victory for either side certainly would lift spirits, as well as boost chances of reaching the knockout round.
San Jose and Montreal have squared only two times before in MLS play. In the first encounter on August 18, 2012, the Impact prevailed at home, 3-1. The clubs tangled to a 2-2 draw here on May 4.
“It is very important when you see the standings, we need some points,” said Marco Schällibaum, Montreal’s head coach. “It is not an easy game again.”