GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala – The Montreal Impact fell to Guatemalan side CD Heredia 1-0 in CONCACAF Champions League action on Wednesday night, at Estadio Cementos Progreso, in Guatemala City.
CD Heredia scored the game-winning goal in the 88th minute. Following a corner, Heredia striker Charles Cordova lunged to get a foot on the ball in the six-yard box to poke the ball past Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush, who had given a short rebound.
The Impact was forced to play the entire second half with a man down when, seconds before the half-time whistle, Impact defender Adrian Lopez Rodriguez was shown a red card for a sliding tackle.
“When the team loses, you can’t leave the field with a smile,” said Impact head coach Marco Schällibaum. “The first half was very difficult for us. The second half was better and we played with will, but we were unable to score tonight. With a little luck, they dot score that goal right at the end of the game.”
“With five minutes left we were going to take a point. It’s tough to swallow, especially to give up a goal on a set piece,” said Davy Arnaud. “The red card changed the game completely. We were organized in the second half and dealt with the situation we were in pretty well. We even got a good scoring chance.”
“It’s frustrating to lose a game like this when you put a 90-minute effort,” said defender Jeb Brovsky. “Playing down a man was not easy but we knew it was not going to be easy with 11 players. And giving up a goal like that it’s tough.”
It took the Impact just 25 second to get its first chance of the game. Midfielder Blake Smith made a deep run towards the corner flag before making a cut pass back into the box that found striker Daniele Paponi inches from goal. Paponi managed a touch on the ball despite heavy defending, but Heredia’s keeper Darwin Mendez managed to block the ball with his upper body.
Head referee Paul Delgadillo pointed to the penalty spot in the 19th minute. Heredia’s Charles Cordova’s attempt hit the crossbar.
Then three minutes later, a low blast from 30 yards out by Heredia’s David Espinoza skipped off the turf and changed direction on Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush, but he kicked out his feet to make the stop.
In the 59th minute, the Impact penetrated the 18-yard-box when Smith played a chip to Paponi near the penalty spot. The Italian striker held off his marker, used one touch to make some space, and fired a shot that was scooped up by the Heredia keeper.
In the 73rd minute, Paponi made a long run from the left side touchline all the way into the box, before playing a short ball to Smith. The Impact rookie pushed the ball past the defender on his right before beating him on the left to recover his own ball, but his shot from 10 yards out rang off the post.
With this being the second of three matches in just eight days, the Impact made a number of changes to the starting lineup, including defenders Maxim Tissot and Wandrille Lefevre, along with midfielders Collen Warner and Blake Smith, who made his first ever start with the Impact.
Over 400 impoverished kids from Guatemala were in attendance for the game against CD Heredia, thanks to Operacion Quetzal, a charitable initiative launched by Peace Pandemic and the Jebi Knights.
The Impact had won the first game of the tournament 1-0 against the San Jose Earthquakes, on August 7 at Stade Saputo.
The Impact will return home to face off against the Houston Dynamo in MLS regular season play this Saturday, at 7pm (ET), at Stade Saputo.
The team will play its remaining CONCACAF Champions League matches on September 17 in San Jose before hosting CD Heredia on September 24, at Stade Saputo.
MTL – GK-Evan Bush; D-Jeb Brovsky, Adrian Lopez, Wandrille Lefèvre, Maxim Tissot; M-Davy Arnaud, Collen Warner, Felipe (Hassoun Camara 46′), Blake Smith (Andrew Wenger 80′), Sanna Nyassi (Hernan Bernardello 64′); F-Daniel Paponi
Subs not used: GK-Troy Perkins; D-Karl W. Ouimette; M-Andrea Pisanu
CDH – José Calderon, Henry Medina, Rodolfo Gonzalez (Victor Hernandez 89′), Wilfred Velasquez, David Espinoza, Hector De Mata, Roberth Arias, Wilmer Garcia, Enrique Miranda, Charles Cordova, Osman Lopez (Anderson Andrade 75′)
Subs not used: GK-Darwin Mendez, Hetzon Pereira, Rodrigo De Leon, Robin Betancourth, Sergio Guevara
CDH – Cordova 88′
MTL – Warner 32′
CDH – Gonzalez 43′
MTL – Paponi 45′
MTL – Lopez 44′