When Montréal Impact face Club América in the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Final in front of over 55,000 fans in Montréal’s Olympic Stadium on Wednesday, Scotsman Calum Mallace will be 90 minutes away from creating history.
Mallace, originally from Torphichen outside Bathgate, is an integral part of the Major League Soccer side that have reached the final of the biggest football competition across the Atlantic.
And, after a 1-1 draw in the first leg at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City on Wednesday, the 24-year old midfielder is ready for the biggest match of his career so far.
Speaking exclusively to the Scottish FA website, Mallace said: “You dream of stuff like this as a kid. You want to play in cup finals and win trophies and the CONCACAF Champions League is definitely the biggest one here. Wednesday will definitely be biggest game of my career and I’m well excited for it.”
Montréal Impact aim to be the first Canadian side – and only the third Major League Soccer team – to win the most prestigious tournament on the continent and book their place in this year’s FIFA World Club Championship.
The Canadian side shocked 104,000 fans at the Azteca with an early strike from Ignacio Piatti after 16 minutes, only for the five-time Champions League winners to snatch a late equaliser through Oribe Peralta in last Wednesday’s first leg.
The experience at the Azteca, one of the most famous stadiums in world football, is one that Mallace savoured.
He said: “It was pretty crazy. Obviously you have to take a step back from football every once in a while so before the game I was just taking it all in, appreciating it all, like the history of that stadium with Diego Maradona and the “Hand of God”. It was pretty spectacular.
Mallace moved from Scotland to the United States at the age of nine with his family. Despite moving away at a young age he still keeps an eye on the national team as well as his local team Airdrieonians.
“When I lived in Scotland I used to go and watch Airdrie every week” he said.
“They were my local side and my favourite team. I still follow them, and keep an eye out for their scores every Saturday.
“Obviously I’ve been watching the Scotland national team, and I’ve loved seeing them do well in European qualifying.
“We are in a tough group but we are playing some really good football and it is great to see.”
Mallace’s development as a footballer is distinctly different to the experience he would have had had he stayed in Scotland. From playing football in high school, he was recruited by Marquette University, where he played football whilst majoring in broadcasting. The MLS Combine and SuperDraft followed, where Montréal Impact chose him in 2012 as first pick in the second draft.
He is not the only Scotsman plying his trade in the MLS, however. Steven Caldwell has been at Toronto FC since 2013 while, most recently, Shaun Maloney joined Chicago Fire in January.
“I’ve just seen him (Maloney) play on TV, not in person” the Montréal Impact player said. “We play them at the end of May so I’ll get to see him face-to-face then. He’s a great player, so it should be a good match.”
Before the two Scots go head-to-head, there is the small matter attempting to win the CONCACAF Champions League. With the chance to create history, Mallace admits that winning the tournament can give his team a boost for the rest of the Impact’s MLS campaign.
He said: “It is still early days in the season for us, and with the Champions League Final we’ve had two fixtures postponed already. It means that all the other sides have played more fixtures than us, and have had more chances to have points on the board.
“A win on Wednesday however would be huge for the team and the city, and it would give us a boost for the rest of the season in the MLS.”
Image courtesy of Montréal Impact
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