This is the 14th part of a series in which we introduce Orlando City fans to the teams our Lions will be facing in 2015 when the team starts play in Major League Soccer. Today we take a look at the Montreal Impact.
Telling us about Montreal is Jean-Francois Corbet, staff writer at SB Nation’s Impact blog, Mount Royal Soccer.
What are the three most important things Orlando City fans need to know about the Impact?
1. First of all, the club was founded in 1993. Before joining MLS in 2012 as an expansion team, the Montreal Impact won three championships in different leagues around North America. The most recent one was in 2009. The team had success early in MLS, making the playoffs in 2013, and they represented Canada in the CONCACAF Champions League.
2. The owner of the club is Joey Saputo, who since last week is now one of the owners of Bologna FC in Italy’s second division. He is a very passionate owner and he is not afraid to make some moves to be competitive, as we have seen with the acquisition during the first year of stars like Marco Di Vaio and Alessandro Nesta.
3. The biggest rivalry we have is with our neighbour from Ontario, Toronto FC. You have to know that Montreal and Toronto have always been fighting for the spotlight in every domain, sports or life in general. It is always fun to give Toronto a punch like we did two weeks ago, officially eliminating them from the MLS playoffs. It was in fact a bloody big deal.
What nicknames, chants and slang are unique to Montreal, and can you please explain them if they aren’t readily apparent to the outsider?
JFC: Our most passionate fans are the group we call “Les Ultras!” They are behind the goalie in section 132 in Saputo Stadium and they always make a lot of noise. They also have some chants like “Allez l’Impact Allez” (“Go Impact Go”) or “Impact Montreal Ohé!” You can listen to those chants on the YouTube channel of the Ultras. There is also another section in Saputo that makes a lot of noise and it’s called 127 Montreal. Supporters are a big part of Impact history and to show them how much they like their supports, the directors of the team decided to retire the No. 12 as the 12th player on the field, which is the supporters.
Besides that, the team is called The Impact, IMFC or le bleu, blanc et noir (the blue, white and black) for the colour on their uniform, like the people are calling the Montreal Canadiens the red, white and blue.
What are the can’t-miss things to do when Orlando City fans visit a Montreal game?
JFC: If some fans of Orlando come to Montreal they will have to stay longer than one day to see all the city has to offer. There are plenty of attractions near Saputo Stadium, like the Biodome, the planetarium of the botanic garden, which is awesome. And be sure to take a little visit on the Mount Royal to see the city from the highest point possible, as no building in Montreal is higher than the Mount itself.
Regarding bars and restaurants, I can’t honestly choose one for you guys. When it’s time to party, Montreal is one of the best places around the world, and you will surely find something you like. Just go downtown and there is a bar or restaurant every two steps. I know that The Ultras are taking a few beers before the game at Bar 99 before walking to the stadium. One of the most popular restaurants in Montreal is Au Pied de Cochon. The pig is cooked from the tail to the nose. Love it!
Who are the key players on the Montreal Impact that we should know about?
JFC: Even after a year where we finished dead last in MLS, we have some players you might watch when you play the Impact. The first one is Ignacio “Nacho” Piatti. He is absolutely incredible with a ball. He came from Argentina and helped his team over there, San Lorenzo, win the Copa Libertadores. He is an attacking midfielder with good technique and incredible ball control. He can also score with both feet. He arrived here in August when we were already eliminated from a playoff spot, but I can’t wait to see him next year.
Justin Mapp is another pretty good player. He has very good vision and distributes the ball very well. Some injuries this season did not help, but at one time he was on the leader board in MLS for assists. Mapp is also very good with his left foot.
Last, but not least, is team captain Patrice Bernier, a Montreal-born player, who played in Europe for 10+ years. That’s not something common for Quebecers soccer players. He played as a defensive midfielder but has some very good attacking skills also. He made the MLS All-Star Game last year against AS Roma. He’s a free agent for next year but I’ll be surprised if the team doesn’t offer him a contract, because he has been the face of the franchise since the MLS debut.
Which Impact players do you think might get exposed in the upcoming MLS Expansion Draft?
JFC: That’s a very tough question! That will depend on which way the coaching staff wants to go for the upcoming year. We might have finished last in MLS, but everything is not black for the future. I think we might lose one of our midfielders. We’ve got talent at this position and I’m not sure we are going to be able to keep them all. I don’t know how the front office scouts the players. Since Marco Di Vaio is now retired, we are going to pursue a striker on the market. There is also the HGPs coming, like Jeremy Gagnon Lapare, who showed a lot of great things at the end of the season. I don’t want to be in their position, choosing which players they are going to protect, because there are going to be tough decisions to make.
We must say “merci” to Jean-Francois for giving us an inside look at the Montreal Impact. We have to say his English is much better than our French.
Previous “Meet Our New Foes”:
Columbus Crew SC
New England Revolution
New York Red Bulls
Real Salt Lake
Sporting Kansas City