The Montreal Impact are in for a challenge in tonight’s first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League as they will take on Mexican side Club America at the historic Azteca Stadium.
From a historical viewpoint, it would be easy to describe tonight’s clash as a David versus Goliath scenario. It is a daunting task to face an opponent who has the support of 105,000+ fans. However there are three things the Impact can do to get out of Mexico with a shot at the title back home next week.
Avoid getting intimidated
Throughout their journey to the final the Impact have been resilient on the road however their last few games have been a cause for concern. It is never easy playing in a hostile environment but the Impact must stay focused on the task at hand. They must avoid all distractions and concentrate their efforts on playing their game. It is dangerous for the players to get caught up in the moment, and let any thoughts of the magnitude of the match affect their play. The best way to relieve any tension is for the players to remind themselves that this is just a game and try to have fun.
Play conservative but be assertive
It is critical for the Impact not to give their opponent time and space, as they have sufficient firepower to make you pay for your mistakes. However playing conservative does not mean you have to park the bus and wait for 90 minutes to pass while hanging on for dear life. The Impact must be assertive and attempt to disrupt Club America’s rhythm and momentum. They should learn from their experience against Alajuelense about the risks of sitting back and letting your opponent take the game to you. They need to be patient and with the help of the defensive midfielders, try to keep Club America from entering their attacking zone with ease. The Impact must also be patient and control the play with some ball possession and not give it away so easily when defending.
Conserve energy and counter attack
Although the Impact have been training in Mexico for the past week to get used to the altitude, it won’t be easy. This kind of environment takes a toll on the players and it is very difficult to play a high tempo game for 90 minutes. The Impact should conserve their energy by remaining compact and use their speed on the counter attack, exploiting any space given by their opponent. Under no circumstances should they try pressing and chasing their opponent, they will pay dearly if they do so.
The odds are against the Impact but stranger things have happened before in soccer so you never know.
It’s NHL playoff time and unfortunately for the Impact this historic game couldn’t have come at a worse time to get as many viewers watching as possible. Not only are the Impact competing against the Montreal Canadiens (who play the Ottawa Senators in game 4) but other playoff games as well which are taking up all the prime TV slots. This limits #IMFC viewership as the game will only be broadcast in English on Sportsnet World (specialty channel which not everyone pays for). The alternative is to watch it in french on TVA Sports 2 – which not many people have either, or settle to listen to it on the radio on CJAD 800.
As of now it looks to be the same for the return leg in Montreal. However luckily for the Impact, the return leg on April 29th will not compete with the Canadiens who won’t play that night.