CCL Preview and Prediction: Alajuelense vs Montreal Impact

Competition: CONCACAF Champions League Semi-Final Second-Leg – Alajuelense vs. Montreal Impact

Venue: Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto – Tuesday, April 7 – 22:00 ET (03:00 BST)

Match Odds: Alajuelense 4/6 – Draw 13/5 – Montreal 17/4

Match Preview

Montreal Impact head to Costa Rica to take on Alajuelense in the second-leg of their CONCACAF Champions League semi-final, with just 90 minutes between them and a historic final.

The Impact currently lead 2-0 on aggregate after winning the first-leg at Olympic Stadium three weeks ago thanks to goals from Ignacio Piatti and Victor Cabrera.

The job is only half complete for Montreal though and they face a tough task of remaining solid against an Alajuelense side looking for revenge.

First-leg highlights (via CONCACAF on YouTube):

The Costa Rican side were unable to score an away-goal in their trip to Canada but they beat fellow MLS club DC United 5-2 at home in the quarter-finals and will be out to attack from the onset.

Montreal will be expecting that and will look to hit them on the counter-attack – a tactic that has worked well for the Impact in the competition this year, and so this one is perfectly set up.

An away goal for the Impact will settle nerves as Alajuelense will then have to score at least four but a 2-0 lead is not as safe as it may seem, especially where the Impact are concerned.

Their last MLS game saw them concede two in a matter of minutes against Orlando two weeks ago after leading 2-0 and they went on to tie that game.

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And their famous collapse against Santos Laguna in the quarter-finals of this competition in 2009 is something few fans will want to remember.

Montreal led 2-0 after winning the first-leg at home on that occasion but somehow lost the game on aggregate 5-4 after conceding four second-half goals, two of which came in stoppage time.

Mistakes like that must be avoided in Costa Rica on Tuesday night and one factor could be fitness. Montreal have had two weeks to prepare for this game, while Alajuelense have had just two days, after losing 3-1 to Cartagines in the league this weekend.

Key Points

Alajuelense’s last five in all competitions: D/L/W/W/L

Montreal Impact’s last five in the competition: D/L/W/D/D

Key Stat: Alajuelense have outscored opponents 7-3 at home in this season’s CONCACAF Champions League.

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Key Player: Dilly Duka – The Montreal Impact winger scored two in his side’s 2-2 draw against Pachuca away in the quarter-finals and will need to put in another dangerous display to help his side relieve defensive pressure.

Score Prediction

Alajuelense 3-1 Montreal Impact – This looks set to be a really tough night for the Impact but they should make the finals on away-goals if they can score at least once. Alajuelense are a different threat at home and will win the match but the Impact will hope to edge it on aggregate.

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CCL Preview and Prediction: Montreal Impact vs Alajuelense

Competition: CONCACAF Champions League Semi-Final First-Leg

Venue: Olympic Stadium – Wednesday, March 18 – 20:00 ET (00:00 GMT)

Match Odds: Montreal 5/4 – Draw 11/5 – Alajuelense 23/10

Match Preview

Montreal Impact host Alajuelense in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League semi-final on Wednesday night in what is a huge game for both clubs as around 40,000 fans are expected to be at the Olympic Stadium.

The Impact made history in the last round by becoming the first-ever Canadian club to beat Mexican opposition over two-legs in the competition as they advanced past Pachuca on the away goals rule to book their place in the last four.

They are the only remaining MLS side left in the competition after Wednesday’s opponents, Alajuelense defeated DC United 6-4 on aggregate in the last round.

DC United vs Alajuelense

The Costa Rican side were the lowest-seeded side left in the tournament heading into the knockout stages but stunned top-seeded DC 5-2 in the first-leg at the Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto.

DC United did win the return leg 2-1 but that wasn’t enough to progress and Montreal now face the task of progressing against one of Costa Rica’s most successful clubs.

This will be the first time Alajuelense have ever visited Montreal and it should be an intriguing game. Montreal sat deep and hit Pachuca on the counter-attack to great effect last time out but their upcoming opponents don’t play with as high a line and so the same approach may not work out so well.

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Hosting the first-leg makes this a big challenge for the Impact as they know they have to go out and try to win the game as the return trip to Costa Rica will not be easy.

Montreal Impact opened up the 2015 MLS season with defeat at DC United 10 days ago but had a bye week this weekend and have had a long time to prepare for the game.

Alajuelense are 13 games into their domestic campaign but currently sit fourth, having not won a league game in six.

Team News

Montreal Impact will be without four men for the game on Wednesday night as wingers Justin Mapp (elbow) and Andres Romero (thigh) will both miss out, while defender Adrian Lopez (knee) and goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau (shoulder) are also out injured. Dominic Oduro will be hoping to start in place of Mapp on the right wing.

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Alajuelense goalkeepers Patrick Pemberton and Kevin Ruiz will both miss the game. Pemberton is suspended along with winger Kevin Sancho, who will also miss the game. Midfielder Luis Miguel Valle could return from injury but is unlikely to feature.

Key Points

Montreal Impact’s last five in all competitions: W/W/D/D/L

Alajuelense’s last five in all competitions: W/L/D/D/D

Key Stat: Alajuelense have not won away from home in the CONCACAF Champions League this season. Domestically, they are without an away win in five.

Ignacio Piatti in action for the Montreal Impact (Photo: ImpactMontreal.com)

Ignacio Piatti in action for the Montreal Impact (Photo: ImpactMontreal.com)

Key Player: Ignacio Piatti – Montreal’s only Designated Player needs to step up and make the difference in this one. He will look to create opportunities wherever possible and could be the man to win this.

Score Prediction

Montreal Impact 2-1 Alajuelense – The Impact will go out to win this game and they should succeed in doing so against an Alajuelense side that is looking out of form. The home crowd will need to play a part in cheering their team across the line but expect the Costa Rican side to grab an away goal in what should be an entertaining game.

CCL Preview and Prediction: DC United vs Alajuelense

Competition: CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal Second-Leg – DC United vs Alajuelense

Venue: RFK Stadium – Wednesday, March 4 – 20:00 ET (01:00AM GMT Thursday 5)

Match Odds: DC United: 17/20 – Draw: 5/2 – Alajuelense: 14/5

Match Preview

DC United face Alajuelense in the second-leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal on Wednesday night and need to produce something special to overturn the 5-2 defeat in the first-leg last Thursday.

The trip to Costa Rica last week was one DC United will not want to remember as they were thrashed by a relentless Alajuelense who capitalised on numerous defensive mistakes by DCU, with goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra directly at fault for two of the goals in a poor display.

Highlights from last week’s first-leg (via CONCACAF on YouTube):

Regular first-choice shot-stopper Bill Hamid didn’t even make the bench last week as he is thought to still be struggling with a shoulder injury but could return for Wednesday night’s game.

Alajuelense know that they are firmly in the driving seat and despite being the lowest seeded team in the Champions League going into the game last week, the Costa Rican club will now have one eye on the semifinals.

DC United vs Alajuelense

DC United did not justify their number one seed in last week’s game but will expect to turn things around in front of their own fans. The Black and Red need to win by at least three goals to progress, while a clean-sheet would really help their cause.

They did net two away goals but the three-goal deficit means DC need to attack from the word go on Wednesday, and that could suit Alajuelense a lot more as they will look to counter-attack.

The Costa Rican side did not have a league game at the weekend and will come into the second-leg full of energy.

Key Points

DC United’s last five in the Champions League: W/W/W/W/L

Alajuelense’s last five in the Champions League: D/W/D/D/W

Key Stat: DC United have not conceded a goal in this season’s CONCACAF Champions League at home and will hope that trend continues if they are to advance. Alajuelense have not won away from home in the competition this season.

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Key Player: Fabian Espindola – He may be suspended for the start of the 2015 MLS regular season but Espindola can participate in the Champions League and he scored in last week’s tie. He will need to lead the line perfectly if DC United are to progress.

Score Prediction

DC United 2-1 Alajuelense – DC United should win the game but reaching the semifinals of the competition after last week’s heavy defeat will be too great a challenge.

CCL Preview and Prediction: Alajuelense vs DC United

Competition: CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal First-Leg

Venue: Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto – Thursday, February 26th – 20:00 ET (01:00 Friday, 27th GMT)

Match Odds: Alajuelense 21/20 – Draw 9/4 – DC United 11/5

DC United are in Costa Rica to take on Alajuelense in the CONCACAF Champions League on Thursday night in the first-leg of their quarterfinal clash.

DC will have watched the Montreal Impact (the only other remaining MLS side in the competition) earn a valuable draw in Mexico against Pachuca on Tuesday night and will be hoping for a similar result at what will be a hostile environment in Alajuela.

The Black and Red were highly impressive in the group stages as they won all four games, conceding just one, and go into the tie as the number one seed in the Champions League. That means the 2014 Eastern Conference winners have been rewarded with a home tie for the second-leg.

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Alajuelense may be the lowest seeded side left in the tournament but they will fancy their chances and they have the advantage of having already played ten games in their domestic league this season.

They sit second in the Costa Rican Primera table after ten games but come into the game in poor form, having not won a game in three. They have lost two on the bounce in front of their own fans, including a 2-0 defeat to league leaders Saprissa on Sunday.

DC United may not have started the 2015 MLS season but have a 2-2-2 record through preseason and will hope that they do not show any signs of rustiness in Thursday’s key game.

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Remaining in the tie ahead of the return leg is crucial and DC are boosted by the fact that Alajuelense starting goalkeeper, Patrick Pemberton and defender Kevin Sancho are both suspended for the tie.

Fabian Espindola may be suspended for the start of the MLS regular season but he can play in the CONCACAF Champions League and will look to be the star man as DC United start their 2015 competitive schedule with a tricky fixture in Costa Rica before next Wednesday’s return leg.

Alajuelense’s form in the CCL: D/W/D/D

DC United’s form in the CCL: W/W/W/W

Key Stat: Keeping it tight – Alajuelense scored just one goal in all four of their group stage games but remained unbeaten.

Key Player: Fabian Espindola – Knowing that he’ll be watching on from the sidelines for the start of the regular season, Espindola will want to make an impact here. He has already scored two goals in this year’s CCL.

Score Prediction: Alajuelense 1-1 DC United – This is likely to be a tight, close-fought game as both sides will want to remain in the fixture for the return leg. Alajuelense know the ownness is on them to attack but DC should be in good shape to earn an important draw.