SAN JOSE, Calif. – It was hard to generate a consensus at San Jose Earthquakes training Wednesday as to what the proper thank-you gift would be for the club to send to the Montreal Impact.
Keep it simple with a fruit basket? Splurge for a case of champagne? Sacrifice a third-round pick in the 2014 Supplemental Draft? How about a little bit of the ever-popular allocation money?
Certainly, the Quakes should deliver some sort of offering to their MLS compatriots. After all, the Impact’s 2-0 win against Heredia on Tuesday night in CONCACAF Champions League cleared the way for San Jose to advance out of Group 5 with a victory against the Guatemalan side at Buck Shaw Stadium on Oct. 23.
If the Quakes beat Heredia in the group’s final game, all three clubs will be tied on six points. And San Jose – making their CCL debut – can advance in that situation with a 1-0 win or any multiple goal win. A one-goal win in which Heredia score would see them through by virtue of having scored more away goals against the Quakes.
“You know us, we like to wait until the end, maybe until the last second,” Quakes forward Chris Wondolowski said.
Things have played out about as well as San Jose could have hoped after they dropped their first two CCL matches by 1-0 scores in Montreal and Guatemala. By virtue of holding those scores down, the Quakes’ 3-0 victory last week against the Impact has put them in the driver’s seat.
“Any time you’re in these tournaments, it’s tough on the road,” said Wondolowski, a veteran of CONCACAF play from his time in Houston. “And we just happen to have the last two home games. It changes the whole outlook of it.”
Now, the last hurdle is to break through what will undoubtedly be a bunkered-in defense from Heredia.
“They’re not the same team on the road that they are at home,” Quakes interim coach Mark Watson said of Heredia. “It’s different. I thought Montreal was very dominant and could have scored a bunch more.”
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Montreal came out in full-throttle attack mode Tuesday because they needed to win by at least six goals to have a shot at claiming the group crown. Since the Quakes require just one goal to get by, they should be able to maintain a more typical game plan.
“We’re definitely going to play our style,” Wondolowski said. “We know we have to win, though. I imagine they’re going to be pretty compact, harder to break down as they were as they were in Guatemala.”