New England lost to Joe Public FC (Trinidad & Tobago), 2-1, and Chivas USA fell to Tauro FC (Panama), 2-0, Tuesday in the away legs of their two-match series.
Playing its home leg at Saputo Stadium in front of its ninth sellout crowd (13,034) of the season, Montreal scored in the 42nd minute when midfielder Joey Gjertsen collected a loose ball and a took a shot from about 20 yards that beat Real Esteli keeper Erick Aleman.
"From a player's perspective, we didn't play our best game because I think we were a little bit nervous," said Montreal veteran defender Nevio Pizzolitto. "In the first half, we played well but in the second half, we let the forwards advance. Lacking concentration, we almost allowed a goal, which is unacceptable at home. The important thing today is the win and we are going to Honduras with the desire to win the series."
No stadium in Nicaragua meets FIFA standards for international competitions, so the second leg is scheduled for Carlos Miranda Stadium in Comayagua, Honduras, on Tuesday.
Montreal outshot Real Esteli, 24-14, while taking a narrow one-goal lead in the series. Former Clemson and Dallas goalkeeper Matt Jordan got the shutout for the Impact. Real Esteli's best chance came in the 75th minute when Samuel Wilson's shot from outside the penalty area struck a defender and sailed over the crossbar.
The Islanders accomplished what MLS teams failed to do on three occasions -- get a result at Alajuelense.
New England lost at Alajuelense twice -- in 2003 and 2006 -- and San Jose fell in 2004.
Puerto Rica fell behind, 1-0, on a goal by former Rev Argenis Fernandez in the 28th minute, but equalized when Olei Telesford scored 18 minutes into the second half when Alajuelense failed to clear a corner kick.
Puerto Rico goalie Bill Gaudette, who played 17 games for the Crew in 2005 and 2006, preserved the tie with two crucial saves, including a stop on a penalty kick in the final minute.
Puerto Rico hosts its second leg Wednesday at Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium in Bayamon.