America,  Canada,  TDM,  Travel Journal

Attend a Montreal Impact soccer game (Canada)

In Canada and the United States, the most popular sports are basketball, ice hockey, baseball and American soccer.

Founded in 1993, Major League Soccer (MLS) is a 24-team (21 USA and 3 from Canada) soccer team (or soccer as they say here).

MLS is developing little by little and is beginning to welcome some of the big names in soccer, usually at the end of their careers. David Beckham in Las Vegas and Thierry Henry in New York were among the pioneers.

I have the opportunity to discover all this in Montreal, whose local franchise is called the Montreal Impact.

I was able to easily buy my ticket on the official Montreal Impact website. I searched a little bit to find out which grandstand was occupied by the ultras: it was section 132.

The ticket cost me 45 CAD, taxes included. Tickets are now 100% electronic, you must retrieve the bar code on the site.

The Saputo Stadium is home to the Montreal Impact and is easily accessible by metro.

The stadium isn’t especially pretty. It was built in 2008 specifically to host the Impact’s games. It had to be renovated and expanded in 2012 to reach the capacity of 20,000 spectators, the minimum threshold to play in MLS. The stadium now has 20,801 seats.

Entering the stadium is very easy, you quickly pass through the metal detector and you have direct access to the stadium’s passageways.

It’s the American way, food stands (“geuleton” stands 🙂 ) everywhere, marketing events, …

What is quite amusing is the contrast between this American fan experience and the country side of the stadium. We are in the immediate vicinity of the pitch, some spectators are even leaning against the railings that surround the field, … unthinkable for professional soccer in Europe.

I join section 132 which is obviously in a bend. Contrary to the other sections of the stadium, I don’t have a numbered seat, you can sit wherever you want. It must be said that in this section, there are no seats, it is a standing stand. In France, this type of stand has been forbidden since the Furiani disaster but new experiments have been taking place for a few months. It is indeed a long-standing demand of the supporters who wish to make the stands more dynamic.

The Montreal team has been coached since 2018 by former Lyon native Rémi Garde. The staff is mostly composed of former Lyon players: Joël Bats is the assistant coach, Rémy Vercoutre is the goalie coach and Robert Duvergne is the physical trainer.

The opponent of the day is New England Revolution, currently at the bottom of the Eastern Conference rankings.

I have to say that I don’t really know the players. Didier Drogba, played there for two years in 2015 and 1016. The former Arsenal and Manchester City Bacary Sagna player is suspended.

As in the NBA, one is entitled to the national anthem of the United States followed by the national anthem of Canada a cappella

The game begins and the atmosphere in the stands is launched even if the stadium is far from being full (15,559 spectators). There is a small core of ultra, I would say a hundred people who will set the atmosphere during the whole match. The songs are varied and the atmosphere is very good.

What’s nice here is that I understand the songs and I can participate. In Argentina, Turkey or Italy it was more complicated:D

I understand from some of the songs that there is a great rivalry with the English-speaking neighbor Toronto 😀

If the atmosphere is nice in the grandstand, the show on the lawn is less so. It lacks speed, movement and technical precision. The Montreal Impact has possession of the ball but it remains sterile

At the hour of play, the entire stadium gives a standing ovation to the entrance of the Argentine number 10 who is coming back from injury: Ignacio Piatti.

His entry won’t change the game which ends with a sad 0 – 0 with only 2 shots on target on the Montreal side (4 for the opponent). It was even New England that got the best situations

A good time spent in the grandstand but a disappointing show on the lawn.

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