MONTREAL – One MLS team still has a chance to win Group 5.
The Montreal Impact couldn’t score the six goals they needed to stay alive in the CONCACAF Champions League, but their 2-0 win over CD Heredia on Tuesday at Stade Saputo – with goals by forwards Daniele Paponi and Andrew Wenger – provides the San Jose Earthquakes with a very real chance to clinch top spot in the group with a win against the Guatemalan club on Oct. 23 at Buck Shaw Stadium.
The atmosphere was electric as Paponi scored the first goal of the encounter in the fourth minute. Heredia cleared a corner to Maxim Tissot, standing alone near the center circle. The young left back pumped the ball back into the box, which led to a chance for Felipe. His shot was blocked, but the ball fell for Paponi who buried it from close range with an acrobatic finish.
Pleasantly surprised to see hundreds of their supporters scattered around Stade Saputo cheering their every approach on Evan Bush’s net, Heredia were still pinned back into their territory for much of the first half by a young Montreal side. The Impact targeted left back Wilmer García on several occasions and crossed for Wenger and Paponi, but their shots were often blocked by defenders.
The Impact also attempted to send their front two through behind the Heredia center backs, and it paid off in the 54th minute. Pushing forward, Tissot weighed his pass to Wenger perfectly. Despite having a defender on his back, the first overall pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft managed to lift the ball past Heredia 'keeper José Calderón.
With both teams needing goals – Heredia could qualify for the quarterfinals with a draw – the game grew more open with every minute. Heredia’s final passes were imprecise, however, while the assistant’s flag and the woodwork each denied Montreal on multiple occasions. The Guatemalan club came closest to closing the gap in the 77th minute, when Héctor de Matta slipped his way past an onrushing Bush but missed the net.
With their first CCL adventure as an MLS club over, Montreal will be back in MLS action on Saturday when they visit the Chicago Fire.