MONTREAL – Thursday night was big for the Montreal Impact. It culminated with the presentation of their new kit. Prior to that, it began with the presentation of eight guys who will be wearing it.
The media got to meet the octet of new players at the Science Center during the kit unveiling. Most of the new faces had never been to the city, and were all very excited to embark on the adventure of helping launch the franchise’s maiden MLS voyage.
“In two days, I went from being in Los Angeles to moving here, in Montreal,” said former Chivas USA man Zarek Valentin. “It’s such a good feeling to be here. It’s a new beginning and I will embrace it to best I can.”
The 20-year-old defender was also very confident about the players that were joining him in Montreal, saying that the team had a good balance of veterans and young prospects.
“We have older more experienced players like Davy [Arnaud], Donovan [Ricketts] and Nelson [Rivas], who have been around the world in the MLS, but we also have a good mix of young players who want to do well in the league,” Valentin explained. “The veterans can take us under their wings and show us the right path.”
Arnaud was on the same page with that last sentiment.
"Jesse [Marsch, head coach] understood that the team needed experience players who know this league and what it takes to be successful in it,” he said.
Justin Braun – who, like Valentin, joins the Impact from Chivas USA – had similar feelings about jumping aboard with the expansion team.
“Jesse has brought in a good core group of players,” Braun told reporters. “I think this team will do well. There’s a lot of energy in the city.”
Drafted from the Columbus Crew, Josh Gardner was honored to be picked by Marsch.
“It’s great that he saw something in me,” admitted the defender. “I knew I had a good 2011 season and I’m looking forward to the challenge of coming here and working hard for the team.”
Gardner, who had played against the Impact in the lower divisions for several years, was very aware of the passion of the Montreal fans.
“I know they’re amazing,” he said. “The city is really nice, it’s really great to be here.”
Returning 'keeper Evan Bush was happy to see Ricketts, the 2010 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, join the team, and is hoping to learn a lot from him.
“He’s an excellent goalkeeper,” Bush explained. “I’m going to sit behind him, see how he trains. We can bounce ideas off each other, and I think it will help my progression.”
Bush was also very satisfied with the experienced players that Marsch and his staff picked.
“They did really well with the veteran guys,” the Akron alum said before praising the arrival of Arnaud in particular. “He’s played a lot of years in this league and he’s done many good things.”