Orji Okwonkwo goal celebration - SAP-MTL CCL

The Montreal Impact struck twice in the first 22 minutes, but conceded a pair of goals in the final 10 minutes to settle for a 2-2 draw against host Deportivo Saprissa in the opening leg of the Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 in San Jose, Costa Rica.

The Impact, led by Thierry Henry in his first competitive match as head coach, will take those away goals with them back to Stade Olympique for the second leg on Feb. 27. But Saprissa will feel confident that goals can be had after a dominant final 30 minutes.

Henry could hardly have dreamt of a better start for his team. New Montreal signing Romell Quioto picked off an errant pass out of the back by former Columbus Crew SC and Portland Timbers midfielder David Guzman and slipped a ball to Impact teammate Bojan Krkic. His shot from the edge of the 18-yard box was blocked, but the rebound fell to Orji Okwonkwo, who made no mistake by slipping his shot inside the far post to open the scoring in the 12th minute.

Quioto doubled the lead 10 minutes later on a quick counterattack. Bojan turned and sprayed a brilliant diagonal ball to the Honduran international, who took a settling touch with his left and then fired a near-post bullet past goalkeeper Aaron Cruz.

The Impact thought they had a 3-0 aggregate lead when Maxi Urruti found the net with an apparent golazo in the 57th minute, but it was taken off the board for a foul by a teammate in the lead-up.

After that reprieve, Saprissa turned up the heat. Former Impact player Johan Venegas pulled a goal back for Saprissa in the 80th minute, latching onto an Ariel Rodriguez cross and Rodriguez then leveled things at the death to send the Monster's Cave into hysteria. 


  • 12’ — MTL — Orji Okwonkwo | WATCH
  • 22’ — MTL — Romell Quioto | WATCH
  • 80’ — SAP — Johan Venegas | WATCH
  • 90’ — SAP — Ariel Rodriguez | WATCH

Three Things

  • THE BIG PICTURE: Is the glass half empty or half full? The away goals are important, but what could have been a massive advantage was erased in a late 10-minute span by a Saprissa team that deserved that, and maybe more. The Impact will limp into the second leg after head coach Thierry Henry was forced to make two changes inside the opening 30 minutes because of injuries to Rudy Camacho and Orji Okwonkwo. He also had to replace Quioto because of an apparent injury in the final 20 minutes.

    : If the Impact go through to the quarterfinals, Quioto’s first goal for Montreal will loom large.

  • MAN OF THE MATCH: On his Montreal debut, Quioto was a force on the left wing. The Honduran helped set up the first goal and scored the all-important second away goal before leaving the match late due to injury.

  • Next Up

    • SAP: Sunday, Feb. 23 vs. La U (9 pm ET)
    • MTL: Thursday, Feb. 27 vs. Deportivo Saprissa, Concacaf Champions League Round of 16, 2nd leg (7 pm ET | FS2, TUDNxtra 1, TSN, RDS)


    Montreal Impact (5-2-3, left to right): Clement Diop — Jukka Raitala, Rod Fanni, Jorge Corrales, Rudy Camacho (17’ Joel Waterman), Zachary Brault-Guillard — Samuel Piette, Amar Sejdic — Romell Quioto (71' Ballou Tabla), Bojan, Orji Okwonkwo (28’ Maxi Urruti)

    Deportivo Saprissa (4-4-2, left to right): Aaron Cruz — Ricardo Blanco, Roy Miller, Aubrey David, Yostin Salinas (46’ Michael Barrantes) — Christian Bolanos, David Guzman (77’ Ariel Rodriguez), Marvin Angulo, Mariano Torres — Manfred Ugalde (77' Jonathan Martinez), Johan Venegas