Champions League: Why numbers say Montreal Impact have a fighting chance against Club America

Do the Montreal Impact have a realistic chance of winning their CONCACAF Champions League final against Mexican power Club América?

It's a legitimate question. MLS teams are 2-32-7 all-time in competitive games played in Mexico, where the series will start at the intimidating Estadio Azteca on April 22.

What's more, MLS teams are 3-22 in competitive two-leg series against Mexican opposition. 3-22!

MANO A MANO
MLS teams vs. Mexican teams
2-leg series, Champions League era (2009-15)
  2nd leg 1st leg Result Win
09 QFs Atlante Houston 4-1 MX
10 QFs Toluca Columbus 5-4 MX
11 Final Real Salt Lake Monterrey 2-3 MX
12 QFs Santos Laguna Seattle 7-3 MX
12 SFs Santos Laguna Toronto FC 7-3 MX
13 QFs Seattle Tigres 3-2 MLS
13 QFs Santos Laguna Houston 3-0 MX
13 SFs Santos Laguna Seattle 2-1 MX
13 SFs Monterrey LA Galaxy 3-1 MX
14 QFs Tijuana LA Galaxy 4-2 MX
14 QFs Toluca San Jose 1-1
(5-4 PK)
MX
14 QFs Cruz Azul Kansas City 5-1 MX
15 QFs Montreal Pachuca 3-3
(2-1 AG)
MLS
15 Final Montreal

Club América

?-? ???

Compounding all of this history is the fact that Montreal are facing a club that, over the course of the Champions League's 2014-15 schedule, have been the best in Mexico.

After winning last fall's Liga MX Apertura and allowing just one goal in six playoff games, América are tied for third in the current Clausura standings with a 6-3-3 record, just two points behind first-place Tijuana. In the Champions League, América have outscored their opponents 30-6 in just eight games.

The Impact, by contrast, have not outscored either of their knockout opponents.

Why do Montreal have a chance, then?

Because that 3-22 record in two-leg series does not tell the whole story.

When the second leg of the series is hosted by the MLS team venue, as the second leg of the Champions League final will be on April 29, MLS squads are a respectable 3-5 against their Mexican brethren, including a winning 2-1 record in the Champions League era.

Two years ago, Seattle rallied from a 1-0 first-leg deficit to beat Tigres 3-2 on aggregate, the first two-leg win for an MLS team over a Mexican club since 2002.

The other recent MLS victory came on March 3, of course, when Cameron Porter's stoppage-time goal at home lifted Montreal to a 3-3 aggregate tie against Pachuca and allowed the Impact to advance on the away-goals tiebreaker.

Hosting the second leg does not make Montreal the favorite: Club América have outscored opponents 12-0 in their five recent home legs (in last fall's Apertura playoffs and this year's Champions League elimination rounds).

But hosting the second leg does give the Impact a much better chance.

And those away goals Montreal are so fond of? They need to find one in the Azteca. An away goal or two does not guarantee anything, as Real Salt Lake found out harshly in 2011, but it would mean a realistic chance at a first Champions League title.

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