Canadian Major League Soccer side Montreal Impact is 90 minutes away from a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League final after a 2-0 win on Wednesday over Alajuelense of Costa Rica.
Goals came from Argentines Ignacio Piatti and Victor Cabrera inside the opening 15 minutes of the first half at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium in front of 33,675 fans.
The semifinal is being contested over two legs, with a return match in Alajuela, Costa Rica April 7. The team with the most goals on aggregate over these two legs will go through to a two-leg final on April 22 & 29. Montreal heads to Alajuela with a 2-0 advantage.
Similar to Europe’s Champions League, this regional club competition features qualified football clubs from Canada, United States, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. The CCL (its acronym) is technically the highest honour a football club can win in the CONCACAF region. Lifting this regional club trophy books the winner a ticket to the annual FIFA Club World Cup where the CCL winner could go up against global powerhouses from Europe and South America.
There were two Canadians on the team sheet for Wednesday’s match, veteran Patrice Bernier and youngster Maxim Tissot, both midfielders. Tissot entered the match at the second half restart. Bernier replaced Piatti at the 75th minute.
Canadian teams qualify for this tournament by winning the Voyageurs Cup.
This is the second time a Canada-based team has reached the CCL semifinals. Toronto FC navigated its way through to the semis in 2012 before losing over two legs to Santos Laguna of Mexico.
Mexican sides have won this tournament nine years in a row. Alajuelense has won it twice, most recently in 2004.