MONTREAL, Quebec – A boisterous crowd of 38,104 spectators at Olympic Stadium saw a new chapter written in the history books of the Montreal Impact as rookie Cameron Porter scored in the game’s final seconds, lifting his team to a 1-1 draw. As a result, the team reached a spot in the semifinals of the Champions League for the very first time, thanks to its aggregate goal series win (3-3, with two goals scored on the road).
With literally seconds remaining in the game, Porter, who came in for the game’s final 10 minutes, finished his chance with precision after chesting down a great ball over the Pachuca defensive line by midfielder Calum Mallace.
“I felt the team spirit was fantastic tonight,” said head coach Frank Klopas. “I think we did a very good job with three key things: planning, preparation and the players we brought in. When you get a group of players who are committed to the goals we set forth in the preseason and everyone understands the kind of commitment, dedication and hard work we need to buy into, that’s the winning mentality and grit that we were missing before.”
“For all the practices leading up to this, coming from the veterans, they’re just always saying, don’t be tense, don’t be tense, just relax on the ball and be ready for your moments, and seize those opportunities,” explained Porter. “The opportunity came and you just got to put the ball in the net. Be calm, touch it through.”
The Mexican side thought that they were moving on in the competition after the referee pointed to the spot in the 80th minute, with striker German Cano converting the PK.
“Our fans really helped us all the way to the end, even when we were down. The atmosphere was incredible. I think the guys felt it and put a lot into the game. The team never gave up and they never gave up on us,” added Klopas.
Pachuca midfielder Walter Ayovi was the first to find a good scoring chance when he played a through ball that found winger Hirving Lozano down the left flank, but his shot missed the net after going one on one with Evan Bush.
Bush then came up with the save of the game in the 71st minute when Lozano chased a ball down his wing and played a low cross into the box that found striker German Cano alone at the top of the six yard box. His onetime redirect looked destined for the back of the net, but Bush came charging out and blocked the attempt acrobatically with his legs.
“The left midfielder put a good ball in and they had a runner at the top of the sixth, and was just one of those point blank ones,” explained Bush. “You just got to put yourself in the best position possible and hope something happens.”
IMFC becomes the first MLS team to reach the semifinals of the Champions League since the LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders managed the feat in 2012/2013.
The Montreal Impact opens its regular season this Saturday, March 7, against D.C. United in Washington at 3pm (RDS, TSN 690).
MTL: GK – Evan Bush; D – Dony Toia, Laurent Ciman, Bakary Soumare, Victor Cabrera; M - Marco Donadel (Calum Mallace 65’), Nigel Reo-Coker (Cameron Porter 85’); Dilly Duka, Ignacio Piatti, Justin Mapp; F - Dominic Oduro (Jack McInerney 78’)
PAC: GK – Oscar Perez; D – Rodolfo Pizarro, Miguel Herrera, Aquivaldo Mosquera, Walter Ayovi; M – Erick Gutierrez, Hector Mascorro (Jurgen Damm 46’), Hirving Lozano; F – Jorge Hernandez, Ariel Nahuelpan (Junior Sornoza 69’), German Cano (Guillermo Martinez 88’)
PAC – Cano (PK) 80’
MTL – Porter (Mallace) 90+4’
PAC – Herrera 37’
MTL – Mapp 55’
PAC – Hernandez 56’
MTL – Reo-Coker 62’
PAC – Perez 90+2’