Category Archives: Montreal Impact

Montreal Impact

In Piatti’s Absence, Montréal Impact Emerge Successful but Unsatisfying

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @ejp_nb

Most recent results: 5/18: Montréal Impact v NE Revolution 0-0, 5/11: Montréal Impact v FC Cincinnati 2-1, 4/13: Montréal Impact v Columbus Crew 1-0

It is no secret to anyone who follows MLS. Sure, the coach prepares his tactics and sends out the strongest team at his disposal. Sure, it is an eleven-man team, not a one-man team. But in Montréal, there is one particular player who consistently makes the difference between a loss and a draw, or a draw and a win. That overwhelming influence falls on the shoulders of Ignacio Piatti.

The Impact have been incredibly lucky. In Piatti’s time with the club he has missed remarkably few matches due to injury. However, the 2019 campaign has not been so kind to the player.

Following the third match of the season, when Piatti scored his second and third goals for the team, he was sidelined for a total of ten matches due to injury, and then a setback in his rehabilitation.

For those of us who had followed the team since his 2015 arrival, we began to sing the familiar chorus of “No Piatti, No Party” — losing your leading goalscorer and team MVP for nearly a third of the MLS campaign is bound to hurt anyone, but when a team is so dependent on one player to provide their goals, it hurts even more.

The Impact’s 4-4-2 record in Piatti’s absence came as a surprise to just about everyone on the outside looking in, particularly taking into account that seven of those matches took place on the road. Although coach Rémi Garde and the players have preached a collective effort and mentality, history was not on their side.

During Piatti’s absence, the Impact have both recorded their first-ever MLS regular season win at Red Bull Arena, and have also been humiliated with a 7-1 drubbing in Kansas City. They’ve recorded six shutouts, but have also only scored 9 goals in the aforementioned time period.

In the absence of their primary goalscorer, all eyes have been on the Impact’s more offensive-minded players to see who would pick up Piatti’s torch. Indeed, Omar Browne provided flashes of technique and scored a goal before falling to injury. Anthony Jackson-Hamel got off the mark before de facto starting striker Maxi Urruti. Urruti, remains stuck at one goal on the season, despite notching five assists.

Garde’s former protegé, Harry Novillo, has been a resounding disappointment, while Bologna loanee Orji Okwonkwo has used speed and power to overcome a series of fullbacks on the right wing. Still, all of that potential has by and large fallen short in that crucial moment in front of the goal.

Undoubtedly, the saving grace for the Bleu-Blanc-Noir is the fact that the team has been more defensively sound this season. Although the team has been on the receiving end of several results that are anything but flattering, Evan Bush is already more than halfway toward catching up with his personal best 10 shutouts that were recorded last season.

Again, it feels wrong to complain about a totally respectable record, taking into account how many other players on the team are carrying injuries and not playing at full fitness. Yet somehow, it still doesn’t feel like enough. The Impact’s third place in the Eastern Conference feels far from set in stone, especially with many teams climbing up the rankings with matches in hand.

With Piatti’s return, here’s hoping his presence is the impetus for the Impact to get their scoring mojo back before the mass exodus of players for the impending Gold Cup.

Next match: Friday, May 24th at LAFC.

Featured image: @impactmontreal

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Two 3-0 Results in 5 Days for Montreal Impact

Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @ejp_nb

Don’t put the Impact down as your favourite to win a match. They’ll probably let you down. It sounds harsh, but it’s true. However, throw hurdles in their midst, neglect their collective mentality, and write them off? They’ll probably steamroll you.

Montréal Impact saw themselves disappoint woefully against an undermanned Philadelphia Union on Saturday, only to turn around and show up just in time to efficiently handle the New England Revolution.

Two 3-0 scorelines. One defeat, one victory.

Of course, the Impact played against two different teams for each match, but it also felt as if a different Impact stepped on the pitch for each match. The Impact’s history at Talen Energy Stadium, as they came into Saturday’s match with a decent record of 2-2-5. Although primary goalscorer Ignacio Piatti is still sidelined by injury, the Union were also without DP Marco Fabián, and starting defender Auston Trusty was suspended. The Impact had just pulled off a rare win without Piatti in their previous match, so it felt as though the stars were aligned in their favour.

Until a team that appeared like 11 strangers in preseason form stepped onto the pitch. Sloppy passes, a preventable penalty, and an accumulation of individual errors from a lethargic Bleu-Blanc-Noir allowed the Union to score what must rank among 3 of the easiest goals in the organization’s history. It was a complete and utter match to forget.

Fast forward to Tuesday when news rolled in that the only two players to score a goal in Piatti’s absence — Saphir Taïder and Harry Novillo — would not be travelling for a midweek game to New England, followed by the news that the Impact would travel to the match a day late due to flight cancellations and it felt as though the sky was falling. New England had been hostile territory to the Impact, where they’d lost all 5 of their matches in the past 3 seasons.

As Wednesday afternoon rolled around, and the Impact still had not arrived in Foxborough, it was as if a wet blanket had been thrown onto the Impact fanbase. We were certain the team would be unable to overcome the circumstances.

As a rotated lineup was presented by Rémi Garde, the Impact began the match on the front foot and thoroughly dominated the first half, enjoying large spells of possession and registering 6 shots on goal. Orji Okwonkwo, switched from the right wing to the left wing, rattled the crossbar and goalkeeper Cody Cropper produced several fine stops to keep things even at halftime.

Revs coach Brad Friedel made adjustments at halftime, and the Revolution came into the match to start the second half with a great deal more energy. However, they remained unable to give Evan Bush a save to make. As the match wore on, it felt as though perhaps this would end another 0-0 draw, and that the Impact would rue those missed chances from the first half.

However, a handball given away in the 78th minute allowed for an opportunistic free kick. Daniel Lovitz hit the target, Cropper spilled the ball and midfielder Shamit Shome poked home his first career goal for the Impact. The 2017 Superdraft pick had spent most of his career on the outside looking in, but has been called upon more by Garde this season. In a match where Shome’s pass quality and soccer IQ were made more evident, and given his long wait for valuable minutes, it felt like a richly deserved goal.

Another maligned prospect, Homegrown striker Anthony Jackson-Hamel, had lost Garde’s and the fan’s trust last season after his attitude and work rate were called into question. Despite a tense end of the season, AJH has shown a much better attitude, and he was afforded a chance to return to super-sub status. A brace notched between in the 89th minute and injury time show that he was more than ready to seize that opportunity.

With this 3-0 win over the Revs, the Impact have now claimed 11 points on the season from the 8 road matches they’ve played — matching their total from the whole of last season. It was also a significant win as it was the first time since Piatti joined the Impact that the team has won a road match in his absence.

The Impact have made it back to Montréal with no trouble, and will therefore likely be on time to their next match against visiting Chicago Fire on Sunday, April 28th.

Featured image: @impactmontreal

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Home Sweet Homecoming for Montréal Impact

Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @ejp_nb

It felt like the six long weeks had dragged on interminably, but in fact they flew by. At long last, the Montréal Impact were returning home to Stade Saputo to play their first home match of the season. It was a highly anticipated moment for all who associate with the Bleu-Blanc-Noir and, even from a distance, the excitement was palpable.

However, the match against the first-place Columbus Crew lacked the same excitement that the pre-match build up had provided. Ignacio Piatti is still sidelined by a knee injury, and the Crew have a notoriously stingy defense. Given that the Impact had only scored one goal in the three games Piatti had been absent, few were prepared for an offensive spectacle, and rightfully so.

The first half of the match was largely dominated by the Crew, who passed between the midfield and defensive lines on several occasions, calling goalkeeper Evan Bush into action. On the offensive end, neither wingers Orji Okwonkwo or Harry Novillo particularly impressed as they were well-shackled by the Columbus defense. As the teams left the pitch at halftime at 0-0, many Montréal fans felt the scoreline was more due to luck than to skill.

But sometimes, luck is all you need. Evan Bush launched a long ball, which led to a miscued header between the Columbus central defenders. Striker Maxi Urruti‘s incessant pressing paid off as he seized the loose ball and sprinted toward the goal. Johnathan Mensah did a fine job in getting back to prevent Urruti from shooting, but as he lost his footing, Urruti passed the ball back to Novillo whose first time strike found the bottom left corner of the net. New Impact president Kevin Gilmore rang the North Star Bell with aplomb as Novillo opened his account.

The Impact would get even luckier 15 minutes later, when Daniel Lovitz‘s goal-line clearance was headed directly onto the crossbar and several video angles were not conclusive enough for VAR to award a goal.

Later, fans would be treated to seeing homegrown players Mathieu Choinière and Clément Bayiha come on to the pitch to relieve the wingers and give Columbus something else to think about as they pushed for a goal. Montréal arguably played their best football of the day with these two additions on the field.

Although the performance was far from perfect, it was arguably a perfect day for the Impact players and fans alike. Underneath the nicest weather Montréal had enjoyed all year, fans reunited to create a fantastic atmosphere and the team picked up where they left off in communing with fans both before and after the match.

The Impact have a week to catch their breath before taking to the road once again (after all, it is only barely spring here in Canada!). Next Saturday, they will take on the Philadelphia Union at Talen Energy Stadium.

Featured image: @impactmontreal

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Montreal Impact Wraps Up The Road Trip

Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @ejp_nb

Finally! The Montréal Impact are preparing for their first home game after six games on the road. Following a 7-1 shellacking at the hands of Sporting Kansas City, fans were eager, if not a little apprehensive, to see how the following matches would go. Would the Impact recover from that humiliation, or had they been shaken too deeply by such an embarrassing defeat?

First on the docket was a trip to Yankee Stadium, to face a faltering NYCFC who were still in search of their first win of the season. With each team missing their most special Argentinian, the fact that the game ended a 0-0 draw was unsurprising. Truly, the match was an overall non-event, as safety on very poor grounds became a bigger concern than the result. Unfortunately for the Impact, forwardMaxi Urruti picked up a red card for a studs-to-shin challenge that was more clumsy than malicious.

This meant that the Bleu-Blanc-Noir were off to Washington, DC on only three days’ rest, short a striker and the player who makes the team tick. Although these were far from ideal circumstances, the fact that Wayne Rooney, who is every bit as important to DC United as Ignacio Piatti is to the Impact, had picked up a red card of his own for Tuesday’s match was a blessing.

With the short turnaround and concerns on the attacking fronts, Rémi Garde opted to give time to the youth players. Mathieu Choinière, Clément Bahiya and Zachary Brault-Guillard all got their first starts with the Bleu-Blanc-Noir. Striker Anthony Jackson-Hamel and Shamit Shome were also given a chance to prove their worth. Including stalwart Samuel Piette, six Canadians featured in the starting eleven.

And the kids did all right. In another match that ended in a 0-0 draw with little to talk about in terms of highlights, there are still quite a few positives that can be retained. First, that our bench might be a little deeper than previously feared. Choinière and Brault-Guillard were undoubtedly the standout performers of the match.

Second, two clean sheets in a row on the back of a heavy loss is an encouraging sign that the defense, and team as a whole, found the stability that had been crucial to a strong end of last season and this pre-season. Finally, the end of this road trip means that the Impact have completed a third of their away matches for the season, and have taken 8 points – a respectable tally to start, and definitely a significant improvement on the 11 road points they earned over the whole of 2018.

At long last, the Impact will return to Stade Saputo to enjoy their first home match of the season on Saturday, April 13th. With Piatti unavailable, and the Eastern Conference top dogs Columbus Crew in town, all eyes will be on who can step up and score a goal to ring that first bell of 2019.

Featured image: @impactmontreal

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Montréal Impact Emerge from the Lions’ Den with 3 points

Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @ejp_nb

After a thoroughly disappointing defeat to Houston Dynamo, Montréal Impact fans were eager to move forward with the next road match, while still nervous that the team would be too fragile to recover from a loss. However, Orlando City had proven to be a comfortable adversary for the Impact since their entry into MLS, and captain Ignacio Piatti had enjoyed scoring 8 goals against them coming into the match, one of his highest tallies against an individual team.

Although de facto right wing starter Harry Novillo had recovered from a late pre-season injury, Orji Okwonkwo was given the start once again as Novillo was not ready to play a full match, and coach Rémi Garde wanted to allow a stable team to build chemistry and rebound from last week’s loss together.

If stability was what Garde sought, his team didn’t initially demonstrate that quality. The first ten minutes of the match in Orlando were reminiscent of last week’s abysmal showing for the Impact, as the Lions pounced while the visitors struggled to find their bearings in the match. Goalkeeper Evan Bush and Lady Luck worked in tandem to allow the Impact to survive an early wave of pressure unscathed. 

The tide turned in the 14th minute, when Samuel Piette launched a long pass toward Saphir Taïder. The Algerian international penetrated the Orlando defense and drifted to the right of Orlando’s 18-yard box as Okwonkwo used his pace to arrive near the penalty spot, where he latched on to Taïder’s cross and punished Orlando’s defensive lapse with a clinical finish the home team sorely lacked.

The Bleu-Blanc-Noir would go on to double their lead directly after OCSC restarted play. Orlando allowed striker Maxi Urruti’s incessant pressing to pay off as he intercepted a weak back pass from a central defender. Goalkeeper Brian Rowe was left with no choice but to sweep Urruti off his feet – however the forward had already passed to Piatti, who needed no further invitation to find the back of the net.

This one-two punch had clearly taken some wind out of Orlando’s sails, as the Impact would go on to enjoy comfortable periods of possession for large stretches of the game. After Okwonkwo had run himself ragged, Novillo made his Impact début, and quickly offered an assist to Piatti off yet another Orlando defensive error in the 80th minute. With his 10th goal against Orlando, Piatti is now the player who has scored the most goals against the men in purple.

Unfortunately for all involved, the match was poorly officiated by a referee new to the league, who allowed a series of increasingly physical challenges to go unsanctioned. It became clear as the clock wound down that tension levels were rising, and there had been several minor clashes between players over the course of the match. Dom Dwyer, who had scored a late consolation goal for Orlando, is a notorious instigator regardless of his opponent.

After a stoppage in play deep in injury time where Novillo received treatment following another robust tackle, Orlando City received the ball. Rather than respecting fair play and returning the ball to a goalkeeper, Orlando elected to go on the attack. This move was poorly received by the Impact, and led to a mass confrontation at the next stoppage in play. Central defender Zakaria Diallo allowed himself to be baited by Dwyer, and received a red card for shoving him in the head. 

OCSC coach James O’Connor would go on to apologize to the Impact in his post-game press conference, as even he felt his team had conducted themselves poorly when ignoring fair play. All in all though, the whole incident was just a blip on the radar in an otherwise satisfying away win.

This match marks the halfway point of the Impact’s six-game road trip, and it is an uphill battle from here until the home opener. The Impact will have next week off as many players depart to represent their countries, and will subsequently enter Blue Hell as they visit Sporting Kansas City on March 30th

Featured image: @impactmontreal

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Montreal Impact Suffocated Yet Again In Houston

Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @ejp_nb

In all of their visits to BBVA Compass Stadium to take on the Houston Dynamo, Montréal Impact have only ever taken one point. If there are matches on the calendar that fans circle with great anticipation, a trip to Houston is not one of them. However, with the positive atmosphere surrounding the team this year, surely the tide was going to change?

Not to be the case.

Time and again, outside factors such as the stifling humidity, artificial turf, and a lack of ambiance in the stadium have been blamed for the Impact’s consistently poor performances in Texas. And perhaps the display the team demonstrated on the field was a result of any combination of those factors.

Ignacio Piatti, the man who makes the sun rise and set for the Impact, was smothered by defenders any time he got a whiff of the ball, remaining well-shackled and unable to contribute to the game. Passes were errant, attacking creativity lacked, and the Impact conceded a late goal – and all the points – after switching off as Houston ramped the intensity up a notch. Over the course of 90 minutes, there was only one team in the match, the team who had played a mid-week game nonetheless.

 As Rémi Garde put forth an unchanged starting eleven from San Jose, fans were pleased to see that the players would get a chance to build off the chemistry that had been building since pre-season. But as many passes went to the opposition and communication seemed non-existent, that chemistry seemed to evaporate before our eyes. Perhaps the Impact need to remain sequestered in a hotel all season in order to maintain continuity?

The highlight of the match for Impact fans was undoubtedly Saphir Taïder’s second goal in as many matches, nearly a carbon copy of his goal in San Jose – the Algerian snuck behind the defense to finish a deep pass, this time off a brilliant cross from Micheal Azira. 

Houston would go on to score immediately after play restarted, before laying a second-half siege to the Impact’s half, much as San Jose did in the previous match.

As the long road trip continues, fans will hope that fatigue does not get the better of the Bleu-Blanc-Noir, as it seemed to do in Houston. Additionally, it looks as though we are in for another year of “Nacho-dependence,”  this writer is off to light a candle for our maestro.

The Impact will take to the road once again, this time visiting Orlando City SC, on Saturday, March 16.

Featured image: @lesliecphotos on Instagram

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Montréal Impact Start 2019 Campaign on the Right Foot (or the Left Foot)

Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @ejp_nb

Montréal Impact had enjoyed a string of promising pre-season results, going undefeated in all matches with only one goal conceded. However, anyone who has ever watched MLS knows that pre-season performances are not totally indicative of how a team’s competitive campaign will go. Regardless, as the team spent 40 long days toiling under the hot Florida sun to get in game shape and strengthen the chemistry that saw them finish the 2018 season on a strong note, a quiet optimism began to buzz around the IMFC fanbase.

The Impact’s schedule will undoubtedly test their mettle, as they begin with six consecutive road games while waiting for the Canadian winter to end. Last year, their road form was far from sparkling. A mere 11 points picked up in away games does not exactly inspire confidence when a team needs to start the season on a strong note. However, this is Rémi Garde’s second year in charge, there has been less upheaval in the squad than last year, and several interesting players have come in, notably Maxi UrrutiHarry Novillo, and Zakaria Diallo (who was signed for the 2018 season, but did not play due to an ACL injury).

2019’s first official lineup saw Diallo, Urruti, and Bologna loanee Orji Okwonkwo make their débuts for the Bleu-Blanc-Noir. Fans’ confidence in the Impact’s improvements were short-lived, as a disjointed start saw San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Magnus Eriksson open the scoring in the 11th minute after Victor Cabrera mistimed a tackle and left an ocean of space at the top of the 18-yard box. Similar to their 2018 road record, the Impact were a dismal 1-13-2 after conceding the first goal last season, so having to face adversity this early in the season, after having enjoyed a comfortable pre-season was far from an ideal situation.

Thankfully, the goal proved a sufficient wakeup call for the Impact, as they snapped into life. In a feat that has been notoriously rare, team MVP Ignacio Piatti scored on a corner played short, allowing the Argentinian maestro to do what he does best—dribble around defenders to unleash a bullet into the back of the net with his magical left foot.

As halftime neared, the Impact were well in control of the match, often enjoying controlled spells of possession—a clear departure from the “sit deep and absorb pressure” tactic employed last season. Diallo had roamed forward from his central defender position to pick up the ball in San Jose’s half and was given an ocean of space to parade forward and launch a mouth-watering low cross to Saphir Taïder who dropped off the shoulder of his defender to give the Impact the lead. There remains some debate as to whether or not the Algerian was offside at the time of the cross. However, neither the linesman nor VAR signaled, and the goal was good.

The second half saw a return to old tactics, as the Impact bunkered and allowed the Earthquakes to essentially lay siege to their half. Evan Bush was called into action on a few instances, but the defensive line held tight. The match ended 2-1, with the Impact emerging victorious from San Jose, much to the delight of players and fans alike.

There are still 5 road games left before the home opener on April 13th. But, as the Impact opened their season on such a positive note, there is a lot more optimism around this long road trip. Next, the Impact again travel to hostile ground—Houston Dynamo—to play on Saturday, March 9th.

Featured image: @impactmontreal

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New year, new hope: Montréal Impact reveals 2019 squad and jersey

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @ejp_nb

On Friday evening, the Montréal Impact invited season ticket holders to their annual season launch event at the MTelus Theatre. About 1,500 of the most fervent fans were on site to participate in a Q&A session with the new president, Kevin Gilmore, head coach, Rémi Garde, and administrative director, Patrick Leduc. They also became the first to see the Impact’s 2019 home kit in person, as the entire team (including trialists) were presented to the public.

Due to a nasty case of living in another province, I was unable to attend, but the team was good enough to provide a live stream of the event. All of the team’s supporter groups had a strong contingent in attendance, and at several intervals, they could be heard singing and chanting in support of le Bleu-Blanc-Noir.

During the Q&A session, the technical staff tackled questions submitted by fans. It goes without saying that none of the questions were particularly difficult, and none of the responses were particularly revealing, as this is meant to be a feel-good event to get folks excited about the upcoming season.

A question of particular interest was whether it is worth the effort to develop players through our academy if the coach doesn’t use them. This question was tackled by both Leduc and Garde, who stated that they have been working together to identify how best to integrate homegrown talent into the squad. Garde’s experience at Olympique Lyonnais will prove helpful – but local players simply will not be inserted into the lineup for the sake of playing them.

After a truly disappointing Canadian Championship performance in 2018, Garde promised he is taking the competition (the only way for a Canadian team to access the CONCACAF Champions’ League) extremely seriously this year. Garde also feels that this year’s squad is more ambitious and more confident than the team with which he entered the 2018 season and that they are much closer to their first MLS Cup this year.

In order to get fans excited, and to get them talking about the team, it was high time to introduce the 2019 Montréal Impact squad and the new kit. Each player was announced individually by match commentator Frédéric Lord, and they walked through the crowd to high-fives and raucous cheers from their adoring public.

The previous home jersey, full blue and black stripes with a blue back was so universally admired by Montréal fans and league rivals alike, it would undoubtedly be hard to top.

The new look continues the beloved stripe motif, but it fades to black at the bottom of the jersey. Additionally, the back is black instead of blue. The quadrant which harkens to the flag of Montréal is at the top of the back, filled in with the IMFC letters in lieu of the symbols of the town. 1642 Montréal’s iconic North Star bell, known throughout the league, is also present on the jersey.

Featured image: @1642Montreal

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Montreal Impact’s biggest winter signing won’t set foot on the field

Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @ejp_nb 

As the team flew to Florida to begin training camp, Montréal Impact fans were feeling rather blasé about the team’s offseason transfers. Then news broke on Monday evening. Team owner/president Joey Saputo was calling a press conference for the following morning. The topic was quickly revealed to be that industry veteran Kevin Gilmore would be announced as Saputo’s presidential successor. That revelation was met with utter incredulity – Saputo hand over the keys to his beloved team? Never!

Joey Saputo. Image: @impactmontreal

As is usually the case with Impact news, the leaked info was confirmed. In a 45-minute conference, Saputo explained that as the league and the team were evolving at a much faster rate than he could have imagined, he simply could not devote the time needed to properly run the Impact’s organization. It turned out that Gilmore had begun working with the team as an independent consultant in November 2018, and his impressive sports management resumé coupled with his knowledge of the region planted the seed in Saputo’s mind that this could be the right person to take over as president.

Nobody can doubt how much Joey Saputo loves the team he founded in 1993. The team he brought to MLS in 2012, which reached the CONCACAF Champions League Final in 2015 and played one of the most thrilling Eastern Conference Final matchups in the history of MLS a year later. Joey Saputo is the man who brought Didier Drogba to Montréal, which allowed me to fall in love with the Impact. He was clearly ready to invest in establishing soccer’s presence in a fairly-monopolized Montréal sports landscape, with the construction of Stade Saputo and a state-of-the-art training facility. After a thoroughly disappointing 2017 season, Joey Saputo sought out an elite coaching staff in Rémi Garde, Joël Bats and their assistants.

However, repeated criticism of Saputo’s leadership was that his passion could cloud his judgment when it came to the business side of the team. In 2018, when the team was in the midst of a winless May, Saputo mused aloud in a radio interview about selling beloved captain Nacho Piatti. He regularly spoke of the team as being in a small market and having to live in the shadow of the Montreal Canadiens. He would lament the lack of sell-out games in the post-Drogba era while offering little in the way of solutions to bring new fans to the stadium and often alienating supporter groups.

In his statement, Kevin Gilmore addressed several of the Impact’s, and by extension Saputo’s, shortcomings head-on. “We need to understand that we play in a top market and we need to start acting like a big-market team,” he asserted. Gilmore called for wiser spending rather than splashing larger sums of cash. He recognized that MLS has a much younger viewing audience than the other big North American leagues and that the team needed to target those younger fans, to engage with them more. He firmly believes there are enough fans in the city to fill Stade Saputo every week, but the team needs to work much harder to bring them to the stadium. Gilmore feels that the multi-cultural, multi-lingual team represents the city and that the Impact need not cower in the shadow of the Habs, but seize their own identity and stand up on their own. 

Kevin Gilmore. Image: @impactmontreal

How do the fans feel? In his first conference, Gilmore spoke the words we wanted to hear. He has a long history in the sports business, and although he is educated as a lawyer, he speaks like a salesman. In particular, his desire to bring people to the stadium and to come to love the team, rather than attracting people who are looking for a casual outing thrilled the IMFC community. Gilmore cited the importance of highlighting Piatti, who is an eternally underrated star of the league, because if we have one of the league’s best players – the whole city needs to know it.

Gilmore also stated that his previous experiences in the NHL showed him that the administration should not involve themselves with the technical aspects of a team. Given Saputo’s reputation for over-management, it will be a breath of fresh air to know that Rémi Garde and his staff can operate without the president adding his two cents.

As a millennial myself and one of Gilmore’s targets, his insight into what we are looking for as a generation – experiences, engagement, and authenticity – inspired confidence that he is looking to target a younger generation, who will hopefully remain faithful to the stadium longer. Although it is too early for Gilmore to provide specific examples of the changes he will effect, and some difficult decisions made, the long-term future of the club looks far more exciting than it did just a week ago.

Featured image: @impactmontreal

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Montréal Impact keep the Playoff dream alive with win over TFC

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @evejulia9

Result: 2-0 Victory vs TFC

It was a matchday like no other. Rivals Toronto FC were visiting Stade Saputo looking to put the final nail in the coffin of Montréal Impact’s playoff hopes. Elsewhere, DC United were officially claiming the fifth of six playoff spots, while Columbus Crew continued a tie game with Orlando SC, a team which boasted the most porous defense in the league.

With TFC eliminated from playoff contention several weeks ago, the match was more about pride than anything, as most had written off the Impact’s playoff hopes, even if mathematically the Bleu-Blanc-Noir still had a chance to make the cut. With Victor Vazquez and Jozy Altidore sidelined through injury, TFC still brought out a strong lineup, looking to play spoiler to their enemy.

For the home side, left back Daniel Lovitz, whose offensive spark contributed to a goal and five assists on the season, found himself injured and unavailable for selection. Jukka Raitala entered the starting lineup at left back and Rudy Camacho, whose previous performances against nimble opponents like Sebastian Giovinco or Lucho Acosta were nightmarish, returned to central defense.

Regardless of what would happen in the match, the supporter groups 1642 Montréal and Ultras de Montréal were ready to stand behind their team with season finale tifo displays.

With the Impact having firmly established their identity as a counterattacking team, it comes as no surprise that TFC enjoyed the lion’s share of ball possession during long stretches of the first half. Evan Bush was called into action as once again Camacho allowed Giovinco to slip behind him, but the Italian’s one-on-one shot lacked any conviction and Bush smothered the ball. In the 35th minute, the Impact had the ball in the back of the net, but following a VAR consultation, referee Baldomero Toledo ruled the goal offside and the teams retreated to the locker rooms in a deadlock.

Following the break, it was clear that Rémi Garde’s request for more aggressivity from his team was heard loud and clear. Several times the Impact hit TFC on the counter, but both captain Ignacio Piatti and striker Quincy Amarikwa wasted their opportunities, and keeper Alex Bono made a heroic save on a header from Saphir Taïder.

Finally, in the 71st minute, VAR was called into action again. Substitute defender Eriq Zavaleta, who has long struggled when facing Piatti, was found to have pulled on the Argentinean’s jersey inside the TFC box, and this time VAR ruled in the home team’s favour. “Nacho” stepped up to the spot and calmly converted the shot.

In the 88th minute, the Impact sealed a 14th victory of the season when Piatti beat a defender and the goalkeeper to casually slot the ball into an empty net, marking his 16th goal of the season. Unbeknownst to the team, results elsewhere allowed the Impact to remain in the playoff race, with Orlando claiming their first win in over a dozen matches in the last seconds to leave Columbus only 2 points above the Impact and that vital red line.

With the last home game of the season in the books, it was only fitting that coach Garde, whose adaptation to the team and the league was painful but has now blossomed into something beautiful, rang the North Star Bell to celebrate the victory.

Since the playoffs are still in reach, the Impact must travel to New England Revolution and claim a Decision Day victory, while hoping Columbus lose or draw in their match versus Minnesota United. No matter how the 2018 campaign ends, to still be in the playoff discussion after such a dismal start speaks volumes to how the team has flourished over the course of the season and fans are waiting for that do-or-die match with baited breath.

Featured image: Montréal Impact

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