Three takeaways from Montreal Impact-Club America

The Montreal Impact's 4-2 loss to Club America in the second leg of the Concacaf Champions League final underscored the gulf that remains between MLS and Mexican clubs. Montreal was coming off two bye weeks in MLS play but was no match for America's high-priced frontline in the decisive second half. For three takeaways.

1. You couldn't have asked for more from the Impact.

MLS cleared the decks for the Impact to have every opportunity to prepared for its Concacaf Champions League, but it still didn't matter. By the time it returns to MLS action on May 9 at home against Portland, it will have had three straight bye weeks and five in the first nine weeks of the season.

Club America had no such luck, playing right through the Concacaf campaign with only a week off for the international break at the end of March.

America was coming off its biggest game of the spring -- Sunday's Super Clasico at Guadalajara -- but it was far and away the fresher team for the the decisive second half of Wednesday's second leg.

2. Credit to Frank Klopas for rebuilding the Impact.

Just two starters -- Calum Mallace and Andres Romero -- were with the Impact a year ago, and two more -- DP Ignacio Piatti and Dilly Duka -- arrived in the middle of 2014 season when it was already a lost cause.

Klopas had just 16 days from the time the Impact left Montreal for training camp at La Noria, Cruz Azul's training center located south of Mexico City, to get his team ready for the first leg of the quarterfinals against Pachuca.

Belgian center back Laurent Ciman was the big signing, a member of the Red Devils' 2014 World Cup team that reached the quarterfinals, and Marco Donadel had more than 200 Serie A appearances in Serie A, but the rest of the rebuilt back six included three players -- Nigel Reo-Coker, Danny Toia and Bakary Soumare -- picked up in the MLS scrap heap, and one player -- 21-year-old Victor Cabrera -- signed on loan from River Plate, where he played all of one game with the first team.

Beginning with the away leg at Pachuca, Montreal counterattacked with efficiency -- it scored five goals in its three away games in the knockout phase -- and defended smartly. To Klopas' credit, the Impact never looked like it was getting overrun when it was getting overrun.

Joey Saputo, the Impact owner, is notorious for giving his coaches short leashes, but even if Klopas doesn't last long in Montreal, he'll have a future somewhere in MLS. His work over the last four months has been noticed. And so was that of Klopas' assistants. He introduced them at the post-game press conference.

3. Club America strikers are in a class of their own

You couldn't blame German keeper Kristian Nicht for the four goals he allowed just 48 hours after he was acquired from Indy Eleven as an emergency fill-in for suspended Evan Bush. Reo-Coker had a nightmare second half as a replacement at right back for injured Cabrera and Hassoun Camara, but it didn't really matter.

As Klopas himself acknowledged afterward, the quality of America's strikers, Dario Benedetto and Oribe Peralta, who combined for all five goals over the two legs, was the difference in the series. And the resources Club America had to sign them underscore the huge between MLS teams and top Mexican teams.

Benedetto, 24, was just another Argentine prospect when Tijuana snatched him from Arsenal de Sarandi, but Club America paid a reported $8 million to acquire from Xolos in December. All he did was score seven goals in three CCL appearances for America. Peralta, 31, arrived last summer after eight seasons at Santos, to which America paid a reported $10 million, and also finished with seven goals to share the CCL scoring title with Benedetto.
14 comments about "Three takeaways from Montreal Impact-Club America".
  1. Gus Keri, April 30, 2015 at 6:03 a.m.

    When will MLS understand that they will never win the CCL as long as parity among its clubs persists? Mexico has the advantage of having few super clubs that can spend unlimited amount of money.

  2. Edgar Aldana, April 30, 2015 at 3:28 p.m.

    The bottom line is that, Montreal fell apart in the second half of the game. The defense made some basic critical mistakes that you shouldn't make at a professional level, Montreal failed to control ball possession giving the ball up time after time, it was like watching a high school game. After watching the game it's quite obvious we still have a ways to go, it doesn't take a genius to figure that out, sorry if I'm being blunt but that's my take on what I saw.

  3. Mario Cesarone, April 30, 2015 at 3:33 p.m.

    Never is a long time. Why cant some people understand that the money difference between Liga MX and MLS is only temporary. Its true that it makes all the difference but MLS will win the CCL in the coming years as roster spending caps continue to rise.

  4. FRANCISCO VILLA, April 30, 2015 at 3:51 p.m.

    Gus, Mexico is one of the most competitive leagues there is. America is in 7th place this year after being champs last season. 4 points is what seperates 1st place Chivas from 9th place team. 6 points from 14th place. Some teams spend much more than others, that is true, but most MX Teams have something very important that MLS doesnt look to want to have. A clear path Player Development structure designed to play their top players as young as possible in 1st division. That is what keeps all these teams competitve year after year. Thats what makes the true difference. I think that there are some MX teams that salaries are below MLS.

  5. Edgar Aldana, April 30, 2015 at 5:10 p.m.

    Francisco, I have to agree with you on the fact that MLS takes much too long exposing young players to the professional levels, as a soccer nation we're very much behind the power curve when it comes to that. We also don't pay enough to make it an attractive league to play in for up and coming younger stars but it is a balance act financially for such a young league like MLS, I do beilve will get there though.

  6. Mike Jacome, April 30, 2015 at 5:11 p.m.

    I'mconfused...How come Club America won yesterday its "sixth title" in the tournament? This competition started on the 2008-2009 season, unless they are counting the previous participations when the competition was named Concacaf Champions' Cup...But in this case... shouldn't we count DC United and LA Galaxy winners of the 1997-98 and 1999-2000 edition, so both MLS team came closer than Montreal to win it, because they actually won it. If people are referring to the re-branded name and format of the competition, they are absolutely right, no MLS team has ever won it, but in that case club America has only won it ONE time, last night's.

  7. Raymond Weigand, April 30, 2015 at 5:20 p.m.

    The MLS $150K defense (2 X $75K) fell apart when the MX found a frayed seam in the zonal defense. The first goal - you can see the 1st defender leaves the man unmarked - for the 2nd defender - who was not expecting the clever pass. Once MX got a whiff of the weakness between these two ... well...watch which side the goals came from and how quickly they came. When MX can spend $10mm and $8mm to retool their offense ... of course it is not to be unexpected that the offense would come alive, however, less noticed is how much effort the supporting players give - as it is their hope to one day to be equally rewarded.

  8. FRANCISCO VILLA, April 30, 2015 at 10:59 p.m.

    Edgar, not all of our young best players are wanted by MX teams nor will they start off with a much better salary if they do make that move. MLS is an easier league to start your career in more so than MX yet MX teams start many more younger players that they themselves develop. To achieve this Liga MX had to demand a certain amount of minutes for young players each season. Something MLS does not even want to consider. In addition to this each MX team currently has to follow these rules in U17 and U20 divisions - Each club must play players born 99 at least 765 minutes in U17/97 age group and at least 765 minutes for players born 97 in U20 division. If clubs dont comply they are fined. This mens that Liga MX is committed to developing and pushing its own talent. Clubs are forced to develop. What are MLS Academies forced to do? Do we see the MLS Academies distinguish themselves from the other ACademies in pushing their top players up 1-2 age groups?? Nope.

  9. Edgar Aldana, May 1, 2015 at 1:07 a.m.

    Francisco, we really need to duplicate what they are doing in the Mexican league, that is an outstanding idea. It's no wonder our talent has a hard time developing in this country. Thanks for that insight I had heard of it but not in full detail, thanks!

  10. Tim Brown, May 1, 2015 at 11:13 a.m.

    First of all MLS has won twice before. Second, Impact should have played both of these games with America a man down in both. Major fouls committed that the refs just did not act on. This championship was stolen from them.In mexico city, America player clearly pulled the attacjing impact player down for a for sure PK. That should also have been a red card as he was the last defender, game in montreal , Player for America already with yellow card makes a clear foul and should have been given a second and thus a red card. Shortly after these blatant non-calls America went on to score. Look at the game and tell me I am wrong. America is a good team but montreal got the shaft.

  11. F B, May 1, 2015 at 10:38 p.m.

    Liga MX supremacy undisputed any way you slice it. All versions of the competition included, Liga MX is in first place with 31 titles, America does own 6. MLS in 8th with 2.

  12. Mike Jacome, May 2, 2015 at 12:35 a.m.

    Thanks F B for the clarification. no one here is disputing the supremacy of Liga MX. 31 titles speak for themselves. I just found confusing this "MLS will never win this competition" statement, when as you so clearly put it. MLS has already won this tournament twice. It would be nice doing it with this format, because will give us a chance to play the CWC, tournament that has never been disputed by any MLS team.

  13. miguel abisaab, May 3, 2015 at 2:02 p.m.

    Hello Paul I came out of retirement for this response to your takeaways. Since the league began in 1996 the US men's national was the priority, now with the growth of clubs and the outside revenue that comes in for the league. MLS front office needs to look at the preparations and scheduling that effect MLS teams in the CCL. With the current format of the CCL, you and I know that MLS teams are at a disadvantage as the season is starting. The case has been made to play group stage games at the beginning of the season, however CONCACAF politics with the other FA's in the region come in to play, especailly with Liga MX. If the knockout stages of the CCL were held in the latter part of the year say August to October, then Liga MX, Central American clubs will be coming off a 10 to 12 week lay off while MLS Clubs are in season form. Now Commissioner Garber has stated many times to see MLS being a top league in the world, what about here in our region? Paul I like the CCL, I follow it, review the matches, players etc. So lets see if your second take away from this years final might start a conversation with the MLS "Big Wigs"! Take care Paul and now back to my "retirement"!

  14. Andrzej Kowalski, May 9, 2015 at 7:31 p.m.

    Mario Cesarone in the new agreement between MLS players and MLS the salary cup in MLS will grow over next 5 years from $3m to $4m per team. Which means that the distance between MLS and the world big leagues will grow and not diminish. The MLS owners think that they scored the victory over the players by giving players so little increase over next 5 years.They naively think that they can isolate MLS from the rest of the soccer world were player's salaries grow faster.But by doing this they harm MLS.

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