On March 3rd, Montreal Impact was set to play the second-leg of the CONCACAF Champions League against Pachuca from Mexico.
Crowned 2014 Canadian Champion last summer, with three victories and one draw in the Group stage, IMFC managed to advance to quarterfinals of the championship stage. Seeded in 4th place, Montreal faced the Mexican club Pachuca, runner-up of the Clausura 2014 tournament of Liga MX, the first division of the Mexican football system.
Pachuca, 4 times winner of the CONCACAF Champions League (2002, 2007, 2008, 2009-10) was clearly the favorite. Against teams from Canada or the United States, Mexican clubs playing at home always win. In fact, in the first-leg held in Pachuca, bookeepers had odds favoring Pachuca by 14 to 1.
Despite the altitude (2300 m), the away game, the complete renewal of the players on the roster (7 out of 11 starters), the fact that Montreal Impact finished dead-last in the 2014 MLS season, the fact that this was the first game of the team while Pachuca is in mid-season, Montreal’s Dilly Duka managed to score two away goals and Montreal left Pachuca with a draw.
About 30 supporters from various Montréal supporters groups (Front Commun Montréal, Ultras Montréal 2002, Section Ludovica and ARMS) made the 4 600 km trip for some unbelieable “away days”. The second-leg of the quarterfinals was played last Tuesday, on March 3rd. With the draw in Pachuca, Montreal needed either to win or to have a 0-0 or 1-1 draw to qualify for the first time for the semifinals. Unable to play outside in March (it was a snowy minus 7 ⁰ ), the team met in the roofed Olympic Stadium and attracted 38 000 supporters including some Mexican fans of the Mexican diaspora in Montréal.
After a wonderful tifo organized by the UM02, the match started, IMFC looking for a draw in the first-half. With a 0-0 score after 80 minutes, Pachuca was awarded a penalty shot because of a rough play by Montreal’s Laurent Ciman, newly traded from the Standard de Liège. 1-0 Pachuca. That meant Montreal would be eliminated from the Champions League. We kept singing. 4 extra minutes. We kept singing. At 93:04, Cameron Porter, who had entered the pitch only a few minutes earlier, on his second professional game, converted a wonderful pass by Callum Malace to make 1-1.
Since its founding in 1992, this has been the craziest moment of all. Madness in the terraces. Pyro, flairs, strangers hugging each others, our coach Frank Klopas getting a red card for a pitch invasion. Madness!!!
It is during this historic game that we unravelled a new banner, featuring the Rebel Ultras logo alongside Front Commun Montréal. We also had a banner supporting the MLS players’ union which, at the time, was negociating for a new collective bargaining agreement. Unbelievable. Impact will now face Costa Rica’s Alajuelense on March 18th in Montréal. Front Commun Montréal will be there.
Pictures from the game, Credit to: Mila S. Araujo
Highlights of the game:
and the atmosphere after the equalizer: