The CONCACAF Champions League provides entertainment through various means. The play. The teams. The players. The locations. The referees. The schedule.
Yes, the schedule.
This year’s Group 3 kicked off with two games between the Montreal Impact and El Salvador’s FAS. With two wins, Montreal have six more points than the New York Red Bulls, who have yet to play in CCL this season – they play FAS next Tuesday, August 26.
But Montreal are also about to face New York. In MLS, this Saturday, at Red Bull Arena. Their first CCL meeting will wait until September 17 at Stade Saputo.
Will this league clash turn into a dress rehearsal for their CCL game? To Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush, it'll all depend on exactly who steps on the Red Bull Arena grass this weekend.
“I mean, it’s two completely different competitions,” Bush told reporters on Wednesday night after Montreal’s 3-2 win in El Salvador. “With the team that we put on and they put on in different competitions, it can be completely different. You saw it last year when we were chasing the playoffs still; we had to balance our team a little bit differently in those games. They’re in a position where they’re still fighting for a playoff spot, and we’ll see what kind of team they put on not only against us, but against [FAS].”
Montreal’s strong lineup against FAS was perhaps a reflection of their troubles in MLS, where they are dead last. They also have to manage three games in eight days with significant travel plans – the Impact will land in New York, where they have suffered three defeats in as many attempts since 2012, sometime on Thursday.
How the Impact will tweak their lineup for freshness, Bush has little idea. But the impetus gathered over the past days leaves him optimistic.
“It’s game by game right now,” Bush said. “Honestly, it’s working for us right now. We won against Chicago, we won here, so hopefully we can continue that into New York, which we’ll focus on tonight and then [Thursday] and moving into Saturday."