CONCACAF Champions League: Frustrated Montreal Impact lament poor first half in loss at Heredia

There’s hardly a more disgusting feeling in soccer than conceding late after holding on with 10 men.

The Montreal Impact were gutted that their improved second half effort didn’t translate into a point on Wednesday night, as an 88th-minute winner by Charles Córdoba handed them a 1-0 loss at Guatemala's Heredia in the CONCACAF Champions League.

Montreal head coach Marco Schällibaum and captain Davy Arnaud acknowledged that the team’s first half simply wasn’t good, but they also felt that they had managed to get organized after Adrián López’s sending off just before the break. And the crossbar that got in the way of Blake Smith’s 73rd-minute attempt was still stuck in their craw.

“I think that the second half was better: we were better organized and had more will,” Schällibaum told reporters after the game. “With a bit of luck, we could have made it 1-0, but we didn’t. And conceding the 1-0 goal at the end is really bad luck.

"I think we didn’t deserve to win today because we weren’t good, but we didn’t deserve to lose either, because our second half was better than the first. [Heredia] were a bit lucky, but they believed until the end. They didn’t steal the three points.”

Asked for his take on the López red card, Schälllibaum responded cautiously.

“In that situation, I think a yellow would have been fine,” Schällibaum said. “It’s the referee’s decision. I can’t say anything about it.”

With Montreal readying for an important clash against the Houston Dynamo this Saturday – two points separate them in the Eastern Conference standings – they rested several players, including a few injured veterans. But the squad rotation, Schällibaum said, was no excuse for the performance as he felt that the quality was there on the field for Montreal to pick up three points.

At the very least, the Impact will have a return fixture at home to make amends. And while Arnaud felt that the Montreal staff had adequately prepared the squad for what awaited them in Guatemala, the captain did concede that a first contact with the Heredia players themselves will help.

“They battle,” Arnaud said. “In the first half, especially, they were more willing to win the second balls than we were, and I think that was the difference in the first half. In the second half, even down a man, we did a better job at that. It was unfortunate to give it up so late.”