Montreal Impact

Old and yet new, the Impact has nearly 20 years of history but is a work in progress on and off the field in MLS. Ancien mais … um … nouvelles, l’Impact a vingt ans de l’histoire mais … um … faites un travail de progres sur et … um … non sur? … le field dans … oh crap … son? ils? … premiere annee du jeux en MLS. Man, I hated high school French.

Trophies: 1994 APSL title, 2004 USL First Division title, 2008 Canadian Championship, 2009 USL First Division title.

Fan personality: Still in a honeymoon phase, but to no one’s surprise, a solid supporters culture has taken root.


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Stadium situation: Also in progress. Saputo Stadium is shown, but it’s undergoing expansion. The Impact will open in Olympic Stadium. Sure, a bit of concrete fell recently, but MLS also plays games in RFK Stadium, so …

History

Those of us of a certain age remember seeing the exploits of Jean Harbor, Paulinho and company playing the Atlanta Ruckus and Los Angeles Salsa in the APSL and A-League in those lean years before MLS started. Joey Saputo launched the team in 1993 with head coach Eddie Firmani, better known for managing the egos on the New York Cosmos and coaching the MetroStars for a brief sti

The team went year-round for a while, playing indoor seasons in the NPSL. But everything soured in 1999, when Saputo gave way to another ownership group. The Impact sat out the 1999 outdoor season and barely got through 2001.

The Saputo family came back into the fold and stabilized the team, winning a second league title in 2004. Then it becomes a second division powerhouse, often drawing more than 10,000 fans and racking up Voyageurs Cup (Canadian) trophies in addition to gaudy league records.

Everything was pointing upwards in 2008. The Impact broke ground on Stade Saputo/Saputo Stadium, and the team upset MLS’s Toronto FC to win the Nutrilite Canadian Championship and advance to the CONCACAF Champions League. And they advanced to the quarterfinals, hosting Mexico’s Santos Laguna before 55,000 fans in Olympic Stadium. The Impact won 2-0 but lost the return leg 5-2 to bow out on aggregate.

Another championship followed in 2009, and the Impact bounced through the shifting second division USA-Canada leagues before revving up for an MLS debut in 2012. They started up with coach Jesse Marsch, a prototypical physical/cerebral midfielder in his day, but they’ve switched to Swiss coach Marco Schallibaum to direct a gaggle of Italian imports.

2013 previews: MLSSoccer.com, ESPN, Soccer America, SB Nation

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