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
, 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
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.