The Montreal Impact had a strong start to CONCACAF Champions League group stage play on Wednesday, earning a convincing 2-0 win over visiting Joe Public FC of Trinidad and Tobago at a cold and rainy Saputo Stadium.
Stefano Pesoli scored in the opening half and Tony Donatelli added a goal in the second half for Montreal, which earned a clear win in its first match in Group B, which also features Mexico's Atlante and Olimpia of Honduras.
Joe Public FC head coach Keith Griffith didn't think the result was nearly as decisive as the score.
"The next time we meet the Impact at Marvin Lee (their stadium in Trinidad and Tobago), we'll beat them by four goals clear, for sure," said Griffith, adding that Montreal goalkeeper Matt Jordan "can't be that brilliant again."
Jordan's play, especially in the second half, helped blank a Joe Public side that embarrassed the New England Revolution, one of the top teams in Major League Soccer, by a cumulative score of 6-1 in a two-game playoff to earn a berth in the tournament's group stage. And with the offence not coming as easily for the club from Trinidad and Tobago, its suspect defence and goalkeeping had a hard time hanging with Montreal in Wednesday's match.
Based on the end result, Impact head coach John Limniatis could only smile when told about his counterpart's prediction for their rematch in Trinidad on Oct. 8.
"Unless he has a direct line to God and He tells him what the result will be..." said Limniatis. "He has every right to be confident, but you have to show it on the field.
"From this game, I don't see how he can say they'll win by four goals. They do have offensive talent, but the other way they're very suspect."
Impact strike early
After controlling possession from the opening kick, the Impact gave the crowd of 7,631 something to cheer about in the 14th minute.
Their first goal was set up by Leonardo Di Lorenzo, whose corner kick from sailed to the far post and was headed back toward the centre of the penalty area by Donatelli.
Pesoli slid to his right and hit a skillful side volley that skipped past goalkeeper Alejandro Figueroa for a 1-0 Montreal lead.
Joe Public, which is owned by CONCACAF president and FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, nearly scored the equalizer nine minutes later.
Keyeno Thomas came close to scoring with a header from the middle of the penalty area off a corner from teammate Kerry Baptiste, but Jordan was in solid position and was able to punch it away.
Both teams had solid chances just before the half as the Impact's Joey Gjertsen cut into the middle for a good chance in the 45th minute while Joe Public's Gregory Richardson sent a dangerous pass across the Montreal goal in injury time.
The Impact earned a measure of insurance just two minutes into the second half as midfielder Felix Brillant sent a pass toward the penalty area.
Gjertsen flicked with a header to Donatelli on the right side, who hesitated, then lifted a shot over Figueroa for a 2-0 Montreal lead.
Jordan was pressed into action again in the 54th minute, sprawling to turn away another low shot from Richardson after he had a breakaway up the left side.
The Montreal goalkeeper made another sharp save in the 84th minute, tipping a close-range blast from Thomas over the bar to preserve the clean sheet.
"They got the early lead and after that, we were chasing them," said Griffith, whose refused to use cold weather as an excuse for the loss.
The wet conditions helped chew the field up, which in turn resulted in some sloppy play. Joe Public's Dale Saunders and Jason Springer were each disciplined with yellow cards in the 41st and 60th minutes, respectively, while Montreal avoided any bookings.
Montreal earned the right to play in the CONCACAF Champions League by beating out Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship this summer.
They advanced to the group stage by defeating Real Esteli of Nicaragua 1-0 in a two-game, total goals series last month.
The 16-team, round-robin group stage features the best teams from CONCACAF, the soccer region covering North and Central America and the Caribbean.
The four teams in each of the four groups will play each other twice, with the top two clubs in each group moving onto the quarter-finals while the bottom two head home.
Montreal's next game in the CONCACAF Champions league is a home contest against a strong Atlante side on Sept. 24 (CBC Bold, CBCSports.ca, 8 p.m. ET) and Limniatis is confident that the Impact can keep building on their recent success.
"I read somewhere that we'll probably finish last in our group and that we don't belong," said Limniatis. "But if Joe Public belongs, I guess we do, too.
"It's all played on the field. In theory, Atlante is the best and the others will compete for second place. Now we have three points and we need to get points from every game."