Montreal makes history in Concacaf Champions League

The Montreal Impact, last in MLS's overall standings in 2014 and 19th out of 20 teams this season, became the first Canadian team to advance to the final of the Concacaf Champions League went it defeated Alajuelense of Costa Rica on away goals following a 4-2 loss in Alajuela that left their series tied 4-4. Two away goals had also been the difference for Montreal in the quarterfinals against Pachuca of Mexico.

Jack McInerney's goal in the 42nd minute gave the Impact a 3-0 lead over two games heading into halftime. It had also been ahead three goals on aggregate with a four-goal cushion thanks to the away goal rule six years ago in the quarterfinals of the Concacaf Champions League against Santos of Mexico and was eliminated after conceding a pair of stoppage-time goals.

Sure enough, Pablo Gabas scored two quick goals for Alajuelense to pull the hosts to within two goals, but sub Andres Romero silenced the crowd at the Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto when he scored into an empty net in the 72nd minute.

"You come into an environment like this, you know it's going to be tough," said McInerney. "We have such good attacking players on this team that we can rely on our defense and get forward when we need to. That's what we did tonight and it worked."

Goals by Allen Guevara in the 79th minute and Jonathan McDonald three minutes stoppage time could only pull LDA even on aggregate and leave it with not enough time to get one more goal and overcome its deficit on away goals.

"We knew we were coming to a difficult place to play with a tough team," said Impact head coach Frank Klopas. "They have a tremendous push with the quality of players they have and their fans. We scored an away goal, which was very important. The quick goal in the second half brought them back into the game. It was a great semifinal and a great moment for our club, the city of Montreal and Major League Soccer."

Montreal could be back in Costa Rica later in the month. Herediano takes a 3-0 edge into Wednesday's second leg against Club America in the Estadio Azteca. The final will be played April 22 and 29. As the higher seed, Montreal will host the second game at Olympic Stadium.

The only other MLS team to reach the Concacaf Champions League final was Real Salt Lake, which lost to Monterrey of Mexico, 3-2, on aggregate in 2011.

April 7 in Alajuela
Alajuelense 4 Montreal Impact 2. Goals: Gabas 46, 60, Guevara 78, McDonald 93+; McInerney 41, Romero 72.
Alajuelense -- Lewis; Acosta, Lopez, Gutierrez, Matarrita; Rodriguez (Guevara 67), Gabas, Calvo (Ortiz 58), Venegas; Alonso (Sanchez 80), McDonald.
Montreal Impact -- Bush; Cabrera, Soumare, Ciman, Toia; Reo-Coker, Mallace; Oduro, Duka (Romero 61), Piatti, McInerney (Bernier 69).
(Aggregate: 4-4; Montreal Impact wins on away goals.)

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