Impact awaits Olimpia - The Gazette

Needs only a point to reach CONCACAF quarterfinal round The Impact expects a tougher opponent in CD Olimpia of Honduras during the return leg of their home-and-away series in CONCACAF Champions League group play at Saputo Stadium next Tuesday. In other words, with the Impact needing only a point to advance to the quarterfinals in February, nothing will be taken for granted. "Our chances of going through are quite good. There are basically three different scenarios for us, but the first is us getting the points we need. We're looking to get three points with a win," head coach John Limniatis said yesterday. "The focus is on winning, nothing else. That's what you have to have in your mind each time you step on the field. "We beat them down there, but that was a very tough game," Limniatis said. "They'll be coming here desperate for a good result to keep their chances alive." Though the Impact's season in the United Soccer Leagues First Division has ended after falling to eventual league champion Vancouver Whitecaps in the two-game, aggregate-goals semifinal, it continues with play in the Champions League for another two weeks. After Olimpia, the club wraps up group play vs. Mexican champion Atlante FC in Cancun, Oct. 28. The Impact is unbeaten in four Champions League games (3-0-1) and sits atop Group C with 10 points, five more than Atlante and six ahead of Olimpia in the four-team group. The top two teams advance to the quarter-finals Feb. 24 to March 5. The team returned to the practice field yesterday after having enjoyed more than a day or two of rest for the first time on the heels of a hectic schedule of 22 games (league and CONCACAF) in 62 days, and having logged more than 20,000 air miles. It concluded with an impressive 4-1 victory over Joe Public in Port of Spain a week ago, three days after losing 2-0 to the Whitecaps in Vancouver (2-1 decision on aggregate) which killed the club's bid to win the USL First Division title for the first time since 2004. The Whitecaps defeated the Puerto Rico Islanders 2-0 in the final, on goals by former Impact attacker Charles Gbeke, in Vancouver Saturday. Bids for MLS franchises: The Whitecaps, hoping to ride the success of the USL First Division title, will submit a formal bid for a Major League Soccer franchise with the league by today's 5 p.m. deadline for applications. Vancouver, in partnership with Canadian NBA star Steve Nash, brother of Whitecaps midfielder Martin, is looking be one of two new franchises in the league in 2011. There are 14 teams in MLS with the Seattle Sounders set to join during the 2009 season and Philadelphia in 2010. The league said it plans to announce the admission of two more franchises by the spring. Those new teams would begin play in the 2011 season. Merritt Paulson, co-owner of the Portland Timbers of the USL First Division and Portland Beavers minor-league baseball team, is also expected to submit a bid for 2011, and as is FC Barcelona, the world-famous Spanish soccer club, in an effort to bring a professional side back to Miami. Barcelona, in partnership with Miami resident Marcelo Claure, a Bolivian cellphone magnate and owner of FC Bolivar, wants to expand its brand in the United States. © The Gazette (Montreal) 2008