CONCACAF Champions League: Montreal Impact ready to go all in against near-impossible odds

MONTREAL – Last Saturday, the Montreal Impact’s 3-0 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps was no laughing matter to head coach Marco Schällibaum. Yet he still cracked wise near the end of his press conference and has maintained his jovial front even as the doubts start to pile up for his team.

“We’re going to widen the goal,” Schällibaum quipped when asked about his team’s attempt to tip the scale in their favor in the CONCACAF Champions League when they face CD Heredia at Stade Saputo on Tuesday (5 pm ET, Sportsnet/TVA Sports in Canada, Univision Deportes in USA).

As with every joke, there is an underlying truth. Montreal will need a special performance for them to have even a glimmer of hope of winning Group 5. They must score at least six goals, ideally without reply, against Heredia and hope that the San Jose Earthquakes notch a narrow win against the Guatemalan club when they meet in the group finale a month from now.

But Montreal have barely scored of late, tallying one goal in three straight losses in all competitions, including two at home. With Schällibaum feeling that the will to win was lacking, a team meeting on Sunday drew positive results: Everyone fancies one last push towards the MLS playoffs, and it starts with recovering the right attitude on Tuesday in the CCL.

“[The players] know that the message is clear: We are going to win this game,” Schällibaum told reporters on Monday. “We have to go all in. We have a small chance and we’ll try everything to take it.”

Certain players will be rested, Schällibaum confirmed, but the Swiss coach insists that a competitive team awaits Heredia – “There will be 11 lions on the field,” he promised. Midfielder Felipe will likely be one of those lions, given his suspension for yellow card accumulation next Saturday when Montreal travel to Chicago.

“The players that will be on the field will strive to show what they can do, to show that they can help the group improve and win,” defender Hassoun Camara said. “That’s what we want for tomorrow: we want to win and get back on a positive spell that will revive us for the next stretch.

“I really think we can do it,” Camara continued. “We saw that against Toronto [in the Amway Canadian Championship semifinal second leg] when we played a great game and overcame a great challenge when people thought we were dead.”