CF Montréal find themselves in familiar territory ahead of their upcoming Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals finale against Liga MX side Cruz Azul on Wednesday evening (8 pm ET | FS2, TUDN).
Montréal trail the series 1-0 on aggregate after the first leg at Estadio Azteca on March 9, which is the same deficit they faced in their Round of 16 series against Santos Laguna after 90 minutes. In that series, head coach Wilfried Nancy's group bounced back emphatically, taking a 3-0 victory in Leg 2 at Stade Olympique that punched their quarterfinals ticket. To advance past a second straight Liga MX opponent, they'll now have to replicate the feat.
"We proved that we can do it," midfielder Djordje Mihailovic said on Tuesday. "Just because it's another name on the jersey that we're playing against, it's the same thing, it's a 1-0 loss in the first leg away. It's an opponent, it's maybe a little bit different personality in the game, a different type of game, but we have to have the same mentality as we had in the second game against Santos.
"Right now the mentality is going to be most important: Do we want it? We proved in the second leg against Santos that we wanted it and we have to do that again tomorrow."
HIGHLIGHTS: Cruz Azul vs. CF Montreal | March 9, 2022
Montréal have experienced a mixed bag to start their 2022 campaign, managing that positive result in the CCL Round of 16, but stumbling out of the gate in league play with two straight losses and a negative-6 goal differential. But despite the rough start to their MLS season, head coach Wilfried Nancy said the motivation is there as they aim for another CCL comeback.
"The spirit is here," Nancy said. "Yes, difficult week in terms of games but in terms of also travel, in terms of rest, practice and everything. So now we have this opportunity to play the quarterfinals and we want to write the story of the club. We have the luxury to play in the Champions League again and it's is a joy to play this competition."
Nancy also said he drew positives from the response after Cruz Azul's opening goal in Leg 1, which Montréal conceded in the 20th minute before withstanding a flurry of subsequent pressure to avoid conceding a potentially back-breaking second goal.
"The last game against Santos was the last game against Santos, this is a new game now," Nancy said. "New opponents, but the spirit is the same. The players are going to give everything and after that, It’s all about the execution. We wanted to do well the first half against Cruz Azul, the game away, but we had difficulties."
Should Montréal advance, they'd face the winner of New England Revolution (MLS) vs. Pumas UNAM (Liga MX) in the semifinals come early April.