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Impact looks to start another Champions League run in Cup play versus Toronto FC

05/05/2015 03:46 EDT | Updated 05/05/2016 05:59 EDT
MONTREAL - The Montreal Impact's ears may have only just stopped ringing from the din of the 61,004 fans who watched the club fall to Club America in last week's CONCACAF Champions League final at Olympic Stadium.

Now, the run for 2016-'17 CONCACAF glory resumes Wednesday with the Impact hosting Toronto FC in the first leg of the semifinals of the Amway Canadian Championship at 20,000-seat Saputo Stadium.

The winner of the Voyageurs Cup as Canadian champion advances to next year's Champions League group stage.

"It's kind of hard to believe we're starting it over again from Game 1," forward Jack McInerney said Tuesday. "But we believe we can do it again every year if we put forth the effort.

"Everyone agrees last week we lost to the better team. It's nothing to hang our heads about. I think the city is proud we represented the club to the best of our ability."

The second leg of the two-game, aggregate goals semifinal is May 13 in Toronto.

Vancouver will be Canada's representative in the 2015-'16 CONCACAF tournament. With Canada hosting the FIFA Women's World Cup in June, for one year only the Canadian team finishing highest in MLS in 2014 gets to play in the Champions League.

The Impact's magical run to 2014-'15 final, which included beating Pachuca of Mexico in the quarter-finals on a last-second goal from rookie Cameron Porter, was a reminder to Canadian clubs like Montreal, Toronto and the Vancouver Whitecaps what winning the Voyageurs Cup can bring.

The Major League Soccer clubs tend to dress a handful of backups in Cup games, as both sides likely will Wednesday, but they'll still be looking to win.

"We want to get into the Champions League and show not only MLS what we can do, but also North America," Toronto midfielder Jonathan Osorio said this week. "It was exciting to see a team, not only from MLS but from Canada, make it to the final.

"It just shows you if we put in the work and you're good enough, it's not impossible to make it to that stage and even win."

Impact coach Frank Klopas gave no hints on his starting lineup. But it wouldn't be surprising if backup goalie Eric Kronberg started or recently acquired forward Kenny Cooper, who has eight goals in 10 career games against Toronto, saw his first action.

Last season, Cooper led the Seattle Sounders to a title in the competition's American equivalent, the U.S. Open Cup. He had six goals and two assists in four games and was named player of the tournament.

"It was a fun ride to be part of that," said Cooper.

McInerney led last year's Canadian Championship with three goals in four games, which included a 5-4 aggregate semifinal win over Edmonton and a 2-1 aggregate win over Toronto in the final.

Under its current format Montreal has won the Cup three times, including the last two years. Toronto has won four times.

Toronto started its MLS campaign by going 3-4-0, all on the road as its stadium underwent renovations. The club is coming off two wins.

Montreal had two games moved to the fall to allow it to rest up for CONCACAF matches and has played only four times in MLS, going 0-2-2. The Impact resumes league play Saturday hosting Portland.

"We just have to shift our mindset now," said Klopas. "We have to put that behind us as fast as we can."

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