Montreal Impact coach Frank Klopas knows his team must be at their best if they are to become the first MLS side to lift the CONCACAF Champions League trophy, despite America’s form leading into the first-leg clash.
America – bidding to match Cruz Azul’s record of six Champions League titles – welcome Montreal to the iconic Estadio Azteca in Mexico City on Wednesday on the back of a 4-0 humbling at home to Queretaro over the weekend.
The reigning Liga MX Apertura champions were put to the sword by Queretaro on Saturday, with Brazilian legend Ronaldinho completing the rout courtesy of a late brace.
America have failed to win their past two league matches since overhauling Herediano 6-3 on aggregate – 6-0 in the second leg – to advance to the tournament decider on April 8.
However, Klopas is not paying attention to America’s recent results heading into the midweek showdown, which is expected to be played in front of a capacity crowd nearing 105,000 supporters.
“Regardless of outcome of [Saturday’s] game, they’re going to be very motivated to play because it is a final,” Klopas said.
“I don’t take too much away from the game from the other night. For me, some of the things I needed to see – because I’ve watched a lot of their games – I saw [on Saturday].
“But for sure, we have to expect a different team, a different mentality and approach on Wednesday.”
America are expected to welcome back star forward Oribe Peralta – joint top goalscorer in the Champions League with five – and Moises Munoz but Paolo Goltz and Ventura Alvarado will miss the clash through suspension, while Miguel Samudio is in doubt.
“They have some issues at the back because of the suspension to Goltz, and Alvarado with the yellow cards,” Klopas added.
“But Samudio played, he’s very experienced, good left back. They have [Pablo] Aguilar, the right side guy. So it’s just with one centre back, what they are going to do. But we know their team. I don’t think there’s going to be any surprises.”
While America, who boast a tournament-high 3.75 goals-per-game ratio, have struggled for consistency, the Impact’s form is cause for concern.
The Impact prevailed 4-4 on away goals against Alajuelense but the Canadian franchise are without a win in four matches since accounting for the Costa Ricans 2-0 in the opening leg of their semi-final tie.
Montreal, who were granted a bye weekend by the MLS in order to travel to Mexico, last played on April 11 and were crushed 3-0 at Houston Dynamo.
“We have to start the game in the best of ways, and everyone has to get ready, get in their zone,” said Montreal centre-back Laurent Ciman.
“With that in mind, we’ve seen that we can keep it at zero at the back. We must not be afraid of that team.
“Of course, they’re the favourites. They’re playing at home. We have to feel free when we get there and play football the way we know how.”
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