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Once a Goat: Nigel Reo-Coker, Donny Toia help Montreal Impact make history in Champions League

Not bad, not bad at all, team.

Toia: Thrown into the thick of it right away.
Toia: Thrown into the thick of it right away.
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

For everyone outside of the Chivas USA bubble who thought the team was just a collection of awful, awful players (hey, sometimes I felt that way too!), what's happened in the past week with the Montreal Impact may show there was a bit more talent on the Goats' last squad than many figured.

Two players who started CUSA's final game last fall, midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker and defender Donny Toia, moved to the Impact in the offseason, and started in that team's first two competitive games of 2015, the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series against Liga MX side Pachuca. They helped Montreal advance, as they drew los Tuzos twice, 2-2 in Pachuca last week (featuring an assist from Toia) and 1-1 on Tuesday in Montreal, and by virtue of scoring more road goals, they move on to the semifinal of the tournament.

What's more impressive is that NRC and Toia both played pretty well, too, and didn't look like newcomers. Well, what's interesting is that there were a lot of newcomers to Montreal who were thrown out onto the field immediately, including the entire defense and both holding midfielders. And the series-clinching goal was scored deep in stoppage time by a rookie sub, Cameron Porter, who hasn't even played an MLS game yet.

The Impact await the winner of the D.C. United-Alajuelense series to know who they will play in the semis. Heading into the second leg on Wednesday, Alajuelense have a huge 5-2 lead, so D.C. will have to be really good on the night at RFK to even have a shot of facing a fellow MLS side for a spot in the CCL final. At any rate, Montreal have played just two games, and they've already done a good job of making club history, but they have a real shot of matching MLS history by being the second team to reach the final in the tournament's current format. Here's hoping they continue rolling, not least because a few former Goats are finding success almost instantly.

And the coolest bit about this from Reo-Coker's and Toia's perspectives is that playing for Chivas last year basically resurrected their prospects in MLS. To see it paying off already is pretty great to see. Best of luck to both of them.

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