The Montreal Impact will need another cup miracle, and then some.
Impact head coach Marco Schällibaum recognized, after his side was soundly beaten 3-0 by the San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium, that reaching the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals has now become a much, much tougher proposition.
“We absolutely wanted to go to the quarterfinals, but with today's result, such a heavy loss, there’s disappointment,” Schällibaum told reporters after the game.
With Guatemala's Heredia leading the three-team group on six points, with one fewer game played than both San Jose and Montreal (three points each), a solitary point for Heredia in their last two matches, both on the road, would knock both MLS teams out of the competition.
And even if Heredia lose to both the Impact and the Quakes, Montreal would need to beat Heredia by five more goals than the San Jose to come out on top of the hypothetical three-way tie – basically a repeat of their sensational Amway Canadian Championship semifinal second-leg win over Toronto FC.
There was thus much chagrin in Schällibaum’s voice on Tuesday night, especially as he felt his team deserved more.
“There’s bitterness, because we were good,” Schällibaum said. “[A score line of] 3-0 is maybe a bit heavy, but I saw my team fight until the end. They absolutely wanted to pick up at least a point here. We conceded silly goals, but it is what it is.”
Schällibaum seemed particularly bothered by the first two goals his team conceded, both an indirect result of a Dan Gargan throw from the right sideline.
“We made two mistakes on throw-ins they had,” Schällibaum said. "We knew about that, we’d spoken about that. If you concede two goals like those, it’s tough to come back from them. Yet we created many chances, but you have to score, and it was our weak spot.”
Two of Montreal’s best chances went begging in the first half as Andrew Wenger and Daniele Paponi missed the ball and the net respectively. Both strikers have seen limited playing time lately and might have put the chances away on another day, but the misses were punishing in this context.
“I thought he was good today,” Schällibaum replied when asked about Wenger’s performance. “He touched a number of balls that could have helped us succeed offensively. I thought he was good. A forward needs minutes, but when he gets minutes, he has to score. Paponi and Andrew were close, but didn’t do it.”