The slogan this year for Montreal’s Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise the Montreal Impact is “Behind every player is a supporter.” But if the number of fans expected at every home game in Montreal is any indication, each player could reasonably expect a conga line of 782 supporters bringing up the rear. It’s a level of love that’s been two decades in the making…
This year – the 20th anniversary of the club – marks the first full season for the Montreal Impact in their newly expanded HQ, Saputo Stadium (situated in Olympic Park a goal kick away from Olympic Stadium, where they play larger-attendance matches). Saputo Stadium now features 20,341 seats, putting it on an almost equal footing, attendance-wise, with the home base of the city’s beloved Montreal Canadiens, the Bell Centre. And to be sure, this rapid growth in the popularity of soccer has not gone unnoticed. Especially by hockey fans.
And for those many among us who think the six-month hockey regular season is too long, major league soccer is mounting a challenge in this department as well. In 2013, the Impact schedule consists of 34 games over eight months, making it one of the longest regular seasons in professional sports. The club’s campaign kicked off on March 2 and runs until October 26, at which time the MLS post-season begins.
But rest assured no one’s counting when it comes to a team that has come flying out of the gate this season under the stewardship of new coach Marco Schallibaum, who coached at the top level of Swiss soccer for a decade. At the time of this writing, the team was sitting at 4-1 in the standings in only their second year in the top-tier North American soccer league. It’s an effort that in late-March earned the team – one of only three Canadian teams in a 19-team league – the top position in the MLS Power Rankings for the first time in the Impact’s history.
That the Impact took top spot at the World Pro Soccer Classic in February seems to have boded well for the club’s fortunes this year. The next match goes on April 13 against Columbus. It will be their home opener at Saputo Stadium, and it will be madness: the customary (and family-friendly) crowd craziness at the home games is almost as entertaining as the play itself. For the complete schedule, please go here.