In what is one of the furthest matches held between any 2 teams in this years edition of the CONCACAF champions league - 3780 KM each way - the Montreal Impact find themselves up against both unfamiliar territory and opponent. And with experienced players like Nesta, Bernier and Di Vaio not travelling with the team, it'll be up to the younger members of the squad to show their mettle.
However, not everyone associated with the club will be in unfamiliar surroundings.
Matt Jordan, Director of Soccer for the Impact and former goalkeeper during the Impact's amazing run in the tournament back in 2008, started all of their away matches in Mexico, Trinedad & Tobego and Honduras.
This time he finds himself in the back office and has been charged with the scouting of the Guatamalan side. With all the distractions that exist for the players, it's paramount that their tactical preparation is tight, and there's no better choice to lead that effort than someone who has faced Central American sides in the past.
The Team From San Jose
CD Heredia qualified for the CCL by finishing runners-up to Communicaciones in the Classura, or the winter portion of the Guatamalan Liga Nacional. Since Communicaciones also finishes first in the Apertura (fall portion), CD Heredia was given the second allocated spot for Guatamala.
The team consists mostly of Guatemalan players and their home field only seats roughly 8,000 people.
In fact, the stadium didn't meet CONCACAF CL requirements and the match has been moved to the Estadio Cementos Progreso in Guatamala City - home of their rivals Communicaciones.
Heredia have only just begun their season, playing just 3 matches so far in the Apertura where they sit in 5th place. You would imagine this would play against them going up against a team in mid-season form with the Impact.
Their stand out player so far this season is Guatamalan striker Osman Lopez who ‘s netted 3 goals in 2 games.
They are a side that are strong in passing and will try and make Montreal work for the ball on their "home" field for the full 90 minutes.
In depth we Trust
Schallibaum's selection tonight will be an interesting and potentially exciting one for anyone who follows the team closely.
In defense, its expected Lopez will get his first start of his career with Montreal. You can also expect a start for some of the recently promoted academy players in defense after the departure of Iapachino last week.
Lefevre in central defense and Tissot or Ouimette at either RB/LB are the options, but who starts and where will depend on if Camara will play at CB or not. Brovsky also made the trip and would be another player that could balance out youth with experience and physicality.
Another youngster looking for his first start is Blake Smith. I'm not sure a lot would prevent him from starting on the left side tonight. If so, watch him to make a real go at it as he looks to give more reasons to his couch to start him more often.
Bernardello, Warner, Nyassi, Arnaud and Paponi should all get starts along side him. Pisanu made the trip and appears fit and ready to play as well which is encouraging for a player who's not seen action since the beginning of July as a substitute.
The Lions Share of the Lead
After a win last week against the San Jose Eathquake in Montreal, the Impact sits at the top of Group 5 with 3 points.
A win against Heredia would be a fantastic result and put them in control of the three-team group. This will nicely set up what will surely be the crucial tie of the whole group stage when the Impact take on the Earthquake once again, this time away from home on the 17th of September.
The Earthquake don't play again in the CCL until the 28th when they make the trip south to face CD Heredia.
Montreal will still need to be mindful of another important MLS fixture on Saturday at Stade Saputo when they take on Houston. The Dynamo are currently 2 points back with the same amount of games played.
A congested schedule littered with must-win matches is all that remains in a frantic dash to the end of the regular season and towards the playoffs.
More from Mount Royal Soccer:
- Soccer Sans Frontières Ep. 66: Édition Tintin et les Picaros
- ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’: A Disappointing First Edition
- Montreal Impact at Club Social y Deportivo Heredia : Game Hub
- ET PENDANT CE TEMPS-LÀ, AU GUATEMALA…
- CONCACAF Champions League: Montreal travels to Guatemala to face CD Heredia in second group stage match