Red Bulls’ Jesse Marsch rooting on Montreal Impact in CCL

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

The United States and Canada will be one in their support of the Montreal Impact Wednesday night, but New York Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch will have an added incentive for a Canadian victory.

As the Impact’s first coach in Major League Soccer, Marsch will take a special rooting interest when his former club takes on Liga MX powerhouse Club America in the unforgiving confines of the Estadio Azteca for the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Final.

“I’ll be rooting for them,” Marsch told reporters at Red Bulls training in Hanover, adding, “It’s a big challenge.”

That may be the understatement of the year. Besides the built in home advantages of the high-altitude Azteca and Mexico City’s infamously polluted air quality, the arena will play host to a capacity crowd of over 100,000 fans cheering on the storied club, making for a treacherous visit for the Canadian side.

Montreal, however, have made it a habit of beating the odds this entire tournament. One of the weakest teams entering the qualification round last season, the Impact waltzed by CD FAS and the New York Red Bulls to earn their spot for the knockout rounds. From there, the Impact maintained their winning ways — beating Pachuca in a home-and-home and surviving a four goal onslaught in the second half of their deciding match against Costa Rica’s Alajuelense to make the Final.

It was a trial by fire for the never-was side — and Wednesday will be no different. If they overcome that first hurdle, Marsch believes the onus will be on Club America to beat the odds.

“Club America, especially in Mexico, is going to be a big challenge,” Marsch concedes. “[However] Montreal has been up to the task this tournament in every game and hopefully they can have a similar performance they had in Pachuca and either go back home with a lead or a draw and know they will have a big crowd there.

“It won’t be easy for Club America to play on the turf [in Canada]. As much as Club America will have a big home advantage, I believe Montreal will as well.”