MONTREAL – L’attente est presque terminée. The wait is almost over.
They feel like they have been away for ages, but Montrealers will at long last be able to get a taste of the new and improved Stade Saputo as the Seattle Sounders make their way to Québec to challenge the Montreal Impact on Saturday (7:30 pm ET, TSN2, watch LIVE in the US).
Exactly 273 days after they last convened at the stadium, the Montreal Impact supporters will be able to discover the new aspects of their soccer home. They will not simply be sightseeing, though, and the players don't expect them to. Midfielder Patrice Bernier, for one, is hoping for a deafening atmosphere.
Montreal set to open Stade Saputo
“With the roof, it’s more intimate, more compact and the noise will remain inside,” the Montreal native told reporters after practice on Friday. “It’s much more modern and the intimate side of it will have people feeling they’re closer to the action. The stadium was nice before, but it felt like we were in open air. Now the noise won’t have a way out and it should turn into some sort of home advantage for us.”
Of the Impact’s next 15 games, 10 will be played at Stade Saputo, and if anyone knows what kind of advantage a long stretch of home games represents, it is team captain Davy Arnaud. The Impact skipper was part of a Sporting Kansas City side that was unable to step on its home field until the 11th game of the 2011 season.
Having picked up a mere six points from their first 10 games, Kansas City then orchestrated a spectacular turnaround, losing only three more regular-season games on their way to a first-place finish in the East. And a lot of this, Arnaud feels, is down to playing a majority of of those games at home.
“I don’t know if a lot of people realize just how many games we’ve played on the road – it’s been tough for us,” Arnaud said. “So for us to have our own home stadium, our own home, is important, and we’re going to get to play a lot of games there. I kind of went through this last year in Kansas City, where we played a lot of games on the road, and then we really benefitted from being at home and hopefully we're going to do the same thing."