Orji Okwonkwo - Montreal Impact - Olimpia - CCL
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Montreal Impact eager to make the most of unusual Concacaf Champions League opportunity

The Montreal Impact have their work cut out for them Tuesday night (8 pm ET | FS2, TUDN in US; TSN 3/5, RDS in Canada) when facing Honduran club CD Olimpia in the second leg of the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals, needing a two-goal win to advance.

Montreal lost the first leg 2-1 at the Stade Olympique back on March 10, shortly before the global soccer world went on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That gave Olimpia two vital away goals in what was Thierry Henry’s fifth game at the helm, plus served as his first loss as an MLS manager.

A draw or even a 1-0 win for the Impact would suit Olimpia just fine, booking passage into the CCL semifinals, so the pressure’s on Montreal to seize the initiative.

“We're going to have to obviously take the game away from them and try to dictate the game, which won’t be easy again because they’re on a roll in their league,” Henry said in his pre-game press conference. “They don’t lose a lot of games. But we’re going to try to do that and not only do that, but we have to do it by two goals.”

Olimpia dominated the Apertura portion of their Liga Nacional season, going 10W-0L-4D to sit above Motagua in Group B. They’ve also played seven games in the last month.

Leg 1 highlights: Montreal Impact 1, CD Olimpia 2

That red-hot form could negate the neutral-site advantage, with the CCL quarterfinals being played at Exploria Stadium, home of Orlando City SC. Montreal normally would have traveled down to Central America for the second leg, entering a hostile environment and dealing with myriad other factors.

Match details aside, Montreal center back Luis Binks is confident that the Canadian club can get the job done.

“Everyone's thinking the same, it’s a winnable game,” Binks said. “But like I said, we’ve got to do the right things and there's no reason why we can't beat this team. I think in the first leg we weren't quite at it, but we also had chances to go on and win the game. So there's going to be no difference this time around. Everyone's on the same page, everyone obviously wants to go through. It’s not going to be an easy game, but we're more than capable of going through with the squad we've got.”

The Impact haven’t played since exiting the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs on Nov. 20 in the Play-In Round at the New England Revolution. They earned the Eastern Conference’s No. 9 seed, then had to travel to Gillette Stadium before dealing with COVID-19 quarantines upon their return north of the border.

That came after the Impact went 8W-13L-2D during the regular season, having to play most of their home games at Red Bull Arena and setting up shop in Harrison, New Jersey, due to travel protocols. They’re all points of contention, but Henry doesn’t want to make any excuses.

“It is what it is,” Henry said. “Everyone has to deal with what's happening right now. When we lost against New England, we went back home and had to quarantine like always when we went back to Montreal. We came out of quarantine not too long ago, we had five training sessions. That’s about it to prepare the game. This is how it is.”

Montreal will also have a shortened roster, with Bojan Krkic not participating after his 2021 contract option was declined. Injuries have also ruled out defender Jukka Raitala, midfielder Emanuel Maciel, forward Maxi Urruti and others. As for who’s available, those like Binks, goalkeeper Clement Diop, midfielder Victor Wanyama and forward Romell Quioto are key players who remain. 

Add up each component and the Impact enter Tuesday night’s second leg against Olimpia as the underdog. Yet while there are several factors going against them, Binks is eager for Montreal to provide a shock.

“Obviously the playoffs are gone, MLS is won so no one’s thinking about it now,” Binks said. “That game’s gone and all focus is on this game and what we can do to get through because obviously if we get through tomorrow night, it's a one-off game on Saturday and anything can happen in a one-off game and then it's the final. Yeah, I want to go all the way, I know everyone else does and we've got the capability to do that. The last game against New England's gone and everyone's focused on the game tomorrow."

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