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CONCACAF Champions League

Mexican Misery Continues: Impact Collapse

Impact de Montr?al 2007

I’m finally feeling well enough to write about the events of last night. From the backer of the game in North America it was just too painful to write about after the event.

The Montreal Impact did everything right early. Absorbing pressure, keeping their shape at the back, hitting Santos on the counter. Two goals could have been three or four honestly, but the Impact looked through to the semifinals.

The second half began and Santos was playing with urgency spurred on by a ruckus crowd. While the Impact looked to be coming apart in the first 15 minutes of the second half, I think one substitution in particular really opened the door for the epic collapse.

I know John Limniatis was concerned about the Impact’s shape at the back and wanted to make a change. But pulling Robert Brown off and tucking Eduardo Sebrango in the midfield prevented the outlet needed for Montreal to try and hold possession when the ball was cleared.

Much like the collapse of the Houston Dynamo two years ago in Estadio Hidalgo against Pachuca, this had the feel off a Greek tragedy. Much like the Dynamo that night, who also came in with a two goal lead and lost 5-4 on aggregate, Montreal played well. In that match Houston made similarly clumsy and silly mistakes at the back to open the door for Pachuca.

I have maintained for years that it is difficult to play at altitude especially when you are in pre season conditioning, but that still isn’t an excuse. After looking organized and keeping a nice shape, the Impact collapsed late.

Every time we think a breakthrough is coming on Mexican soil for one of our teams something epic, tragic and downright improbable happens.

A tough night, but further proof that Mexican clubs and Mexican Football continues to be the sole dominant force in CONCACAF. While the US and Costa Rican National Teams can dispute that claim, the US doesn’t have a comparable domestic league by any standard to Mexico’s and Costa Rica has two very good teams that could compete in Mexico, but then a bunch of sides that probably wouldn’t fare well in Mexico’s second division.

So here we are again. The semifinals of this new event have simply confirmed what the predecessor of this event told us just about every year. Mexican football reigns supreme in CONCACAF. Thank goodness for the Puerto Rico Islanders, a USL-1 side whose grit and determination gives us something to feel good about.

But now that the Islanders will be facing the big boys from Mexico, little hope remains that this first CONCACAF Champions League will be the breakthrough for the American player (The Islanders while in a US Commonwealth and technically representing Puerto Rico is made up largely of former MLS players including many Americans or Caribbean islanders who played college soccer in the US) to prove they can best their Mexican counterparts.

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  1. Joey Clams

    March 7, 2009 at 11:01 am


    They handed Vancouver home field.

    That was a joke.

    God, I wish that you Canucks would just disappear.

  2. Lars

    March 7, 2009 at 10:50 am

    And who won USL-1 Last year? Oh right, Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Good call USA in 2010

  3. USA in 2010

    March 7, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Actually now upon reflection with the Islanders advancing giving us a representative of the American game and player I am pleased Montreal did not advance. I don’t want the canucks lecturing us about the game for another two weeks.

    Hey Impact fans. Watch the Islanders: they finished ahead of you in the table last year in USL, and they got farther than you in the CCL despite all the hype generated in Canada.

    The American player and the Caribbean player is still superior to the Canadian player.

  4. Jorgito Malacopa

    March 6, 2009 at 11:11 am

    mls don’t seem to care about the tournament, my team(Dynamo), our coach, most of our fans, etc. people don’t understand the importance of this tournament. this is our libertadores! our league needs to earn international respect. start by beating the mexicans, in mexico.

  5. The Battery

    March 6, 2009 at 8:39 am

    The last ten minutes were just sad and sick. I don’t even want to think about it.

  6. Lars

    March 6, 2009 at 5:05 am

    Don’t need to, its implied that its their fault.

    The CSA has done more to hamper Canadian soccer than anyone else in the world. Absolutely zero development programs outside of what the pro teams put on. No way to create good Canadian teams at the pro level…

  7. Joey Clams

    March 6, 2009 at 4:10 am

    At least no one is blaming the Canadian Soccer Association.

  8. Ray

    March 6, 2009 at 3:43 am

    My guess is the altitude was the main problem. The last 30 minutes of the game looked like it was 11 against 4. That the Impact aren’t in mid-season shape hurt but probably not as much as the altitude and Santos’ acclimation to their own climate.

    It was so hard to watch too. I really wanted the Impact to win. But it’s only fair that Santos won based on their complete domination in the 2nd half. The Impact had trouble clearing the ball passed midfield. They couldn’t string more than 2 passes together. They could only play kickball and clear out the relentless pressure from Santos. Geez Santos must’ve had one offensive surge every minute.

  9. Joey Clams

    March 6, 2009 at 2:28 am

    I hear you USA2010. But, unfortunately with all the offensive noise about Montreal, the debate is almost unavoidable.

    Anyway, go PR.

  10. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    March 6, 2009 at 2:15 am

    USA in 2010

    Good points. On the Islanders, we’re going to have a month where I suspect Puerto Rico will probably garner more discussion this site than any subject other than the US National Team. I know everyone is pulling for them and we’ll have plenty of opportunities to discuss that team and their tie with Cruz Azul before the semifinals. So for now talking about the Impact and Montreal isn’t distracting from talking about the Islanders at all.

  11. USA in 2010

    March 6, 2009 at 2:04 am

    My take on this debate:

    As a US National Team and US Soccer fan my main priority was the Dynamo and Islanders. As you mentioned above even though the Islanders represent Puerto Rico technically in the tournament they are an americanized team in an area where the residents have American passports. The Puerto Rican national team has almost exclusively become made up of American players who aren’t sniffing the US player pool and played for the Islanders at some point. Josh Saunders, anyone? Besides the entire Islander team either is American or went to college here with one or two exceptions.

    Anyhow, my point is I had resolved that if both the Dynamo and Islanders lost I’d be cheering hard for Montreal. If one or both had already advanced, I would not care. With the Islanders through, like Joey I enjoyed the spectacle of the comeback and the choke. I felt bad for the Impact but my view is that this should shut up the Canadian TFC/Montreal/Whitcaps fans for a while who constantly talk about how they support the sport better than we do.

    Can we get back to talking about Puerto Rico here, the team that did advance and the team we will all be pulling for without reservation instead of debating about Canadian Soccer?

  12. Joey Clams

    March 6, 2009 at 1:37 am


    The great irony is that once you get past the hotheadedness and irrationality and poor sportsmanship of Mexican fans, you’ll find that they’re capable of much greater warmth than MLS and US fans.

    I’ve wanted to take Mexicans on with a baseball bat many times. But, I must admit that my one-on-one experiences with them have been pleasant and even rewarding.

  13. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    March 6, 2009 at 1:29 am

    I’ve never said I cared about the Impact the way I did the Islanders or Dynamo.

    On the American Soccer Show, DD was my co-host and was more interested, perhaps rightfully in the five MLS/USL teams from the continental US and a US commonwealth. He did make that statement about knowing all the Islanders players and not knowing the Impact players: If you are an American soccer fan and looked at the two rosters you’d agree: 80% of the Islanders squad is familiar while only a handful of Impact players are well known among US Soccer fans.

    I do recall trying to put the Impact in the conversation a few times but that it would inevitably drift back to the Dyanmo or the Islanders because that was what he was watching and what he was interested in.

    From that standpoint, Joey is right: Montreal is a Canadian team.

    But because they are a USL team not a CSA or CPSL team, I pulled for them. Maybe not with the same intensity as I pulled for the Dynamo or Islanders ( a team I’ve seen in person many times: i’ve never seen the Impact or Dynamo play in the person)but I did root them on and had a sick feeling last night.

    But MLS is somewhat foreign now down here itself. Someone told me yesterday it’s easier and cheaper to hop on a plane and see Atlante play than any MLS team. Cancun is geographically much closer to Miami or Tampa than any current MLS city.

  14. Joey Clams

    March 6, 2009 at 1:03 am

    Kartik is allowed to let his attitudes evolve like the rest of us.

    I realize that my own attitude is rather petty in some ways. But, hey, that’s part of being a fan. And no one should presume where I ought to direct my extramural loyalty. Furthermore, it’s a myth that the fraternal love, the magnanimity is reciprocal; any cursory look at the main Canadian fan sites will confirm nothing but indifference and hostility towards US soccer. It’s there in black and white.

  15. Zen Guru

    March 6, 2009 at 12:36 am

    Oh and you also said way back something like we have five teams to root for in CONCACAF, 4 MLS teams and USL’s Islanders who surprisingly qualified for the tournament. If you are all into the Impact shouldn’t the number have been six?

  16. Zen Guru

    March 6, 2009 at 12:34 am

    Kartik, I love you man but some reality from your previous statements on CSRN.

    – When the qualifying stage began you and Dave Denholm talked about the three American teams playing in that stage: Chivas USA, New England and Puerto Rico. When the Impact came up one of you guys said something like “oh they aren’t an American team, back to the Islanders and Revs.”

    – When qualifying was done you spent a whole show discussing Puerto Rico beating Alejenese and New England losing to Joe Public and did not even mention the Impact because they were a “foreign” team.

    – When you guys previewed the group stages you talked about the three “American” teams and their groups: Houston, Puerto Rico and DC United. You completely ignored the 4th group which the Impact was in.

    – As the tournament went on and before the show mysteriously disappeared you forgot about DC and broke down Puerto Rico and Houston’s matches like home teams and mentioned the Impact in passing.

    So what makes your attitude different from Joey Clams all of a sudden? Either you or Denholm actually said on the air that you were watching the Islanders because they were an American team with familiar players and not paying attention to the Impact who had players you had never heard of. Maybe that was him, but it was said on the show.

    You are great 95% of the time Kartik, but on this you’ve attempted to embrace Montreal after pumping up Puerto Rico and Houston for the last eight months. That may be a genuine feeling or maybe just bandwagon hoping to get more Canadian readers. I don’t know. Personally whatever the case is fine, but you have been inconsistent.

  17. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    March 6, 2009 at 12:23 am

    While I agree with your sentiments, Joey they play in USL which is an American based league so I do feel more ownership of them than an FMF side. But their are some fans of USL teams I know that say since Puerto Rico is successful that the two Canadian teams should be kicked out and the league should be limited to continental US + Puerto Rico which of course is a US Commonwealth.

    But would USL even survive without Canada? Maybe, but it would probably be bad business for Marcos. I do know one fan of Miami FC that was rooting for the Dynamo and the Islanders this week but refused to back the Impact, claiming they were just another foreign team. But is this really fair? Matt Jordan is an American keeper of some note and they have other American players as well.

  18. Joey Clams

    March 6, 2009 at 12:14 am

    Mexico is part of North American, as well. One could even argue that links with Mexico in certain parts of the US are stronger than those with Anglophone Canada, let alone Francophone Canada.

    So, I felt no responsibility to cheer for Montreal. I admired their effort. I was ready to applaud their victory. But a funny thing happened.

    Their loss doesn’t bother me in the least. In fact, the neutral observer within me rather enjoyed the drama of the comeback / choke.

    As an American soccer fan, I have my own worries. I don’t need to worry about what the hell happens to Le Impact.

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