CCL Semifinals, leg 1 recap: Montreal and Herediano win

IMAGE, MLSSOCCER.COM

by RYAN BRISTER
Staff Writer

The CONCACAF Champions League held the first legs of its semifinals on Tuesday, and both home teams staked out leads they’ll hope can last through the away trip. In Montreal, the Impact continued their unlikely quest towards becoming the second Major League Soccer team to reach the final. In Costa Rica, Herediano came away with a stunning first-leg scoreline.

Montreal Impact 2-0 Alajuelense

The Montreal Impact got off to a fast start in their CCL semifinal, but they might have wanted more than just a 2-0 victory over Alajuelense on Wednesday night. Ignacio Piatti put the Impact ahead in the ninth minute, aided by a Cameron Porter dummy in the box. Piatti’s corner in the 14th minute led to Victor Cabrera’s goal to double the advantage.

But while the Impact dominated the opening 20 minutes, and had a reasonable amount of control throughout the game, they were unable to add to their early lead. To their credit, they kept Alajuelense from producing too many chances; the visitors had just one shot on goal.

33,675 were in Olympic Stadium to see the Impact claim another victory over Central American competition. Montreal is the higher seed, but CONCACAF determined ahead of time that the winner of the 1 seed vs. 8 seed quarterfinal would host the second leg of their semifinal.

Montreal will hope that two goals is enough for when they travel to Costa Rica on April 7th.

Herediano 3-0 América

Well here’s a surprise. Some (myself included) thought América would coast through the CCL as the last remaining Mexican team, but they ran into a speed bump Tuesday night in Costa Rica.

América’s Michael Arroyo was sent off in the 27th minute for a dangerous tackle, but the Mexican side managed to survive the first half without conceding. They weren’t so lucky in the second half, as Herediano notched three goals. Esteban Ramirez, Yendrick Ruiz, and Jonathan Hansen scored for the hosts.

In addition to Arroyo’s red card, seven yellow cards were handed out over the course of the match.

22-year-old Mexican-American Ventura Alvarado played all 90 minutes in defense for América.

Herediano is only in this tournament because the Belmopan Bandits, from Belize, were disqualified last August because their home stadium was not up to CONCACAF’s standards. They now stand on the verge of reaching their first CCL final, if they can just hang on for 90 minutes in the Azteca.

The second leg is scheduled for April 8th.