Montreal Impact reflect on "drastic growth" as 25th anniversary approaches

Evan Bush - Montreal Impact - looking

MONTREAL — From their longest-serving player, goalkeeper Evan Bush, to Remi Garde, their new head coach, the Montreal Impact feel there is plenty to celebrate in commemorating the team’s first home game 25 years ago Monday.

The Impact’s 25th anniversary, which will be marked by a game Monday against the LA Galaxy at Stade Saputo (3 pm ET | TVAS, TSN — Full TV & Streaming Info), offers Bush an opportunity to reflect on the substantial portion of time he has been a part of the Montreal team’s history.

“Yeah, it’s kind of crazy,” Bush said before practice at Centre Nutrilait on Friday. “Sometimes I think about it and I’ve been here for a third of the club’s existence. That’s kind of insane to me. I’ve had a lot of people come and go in the time I’ve been here.”

Garde, for his part, is just beginning to make his mark in Impact lore. But his long association with Olympique Lyonnais helps him appreciate the significance playing on the anniversary of his new team’s Montreal debut in 1993, one that predates their inaugural MLS season in 2012 by 19 years.

“We are part of an organization that is celebrating its 25th anniversary, which is something very important for the club,” Garde said. “...Hopefully it can give every one of us a little bit more of a desire to show that it’s a very good organization and we all want to be successful for that day."

Bush recalled former Impact teammates such as Nevio Pizzolito, who he played with in the final season of the team’s NASL incarnation in 2011, and Eddie Sebrango, who bridged Montreal’s move to MLS, as well as Davy Arnaud, who scored the Impact’s first MLS goal, and high-profile players such as Alessandro Nesta, Laurent Ciman and Didier Drogba.

“When I first started coming to Montreal it was 2009 [when I played] with Cleveland and it was always the trip you wanted to make because the city and the fans appreciated the team compared to the other USL or NASL teams,” Bush said. “So right from the start I thought that there was a great fanbase here. And then when I got here in 2011 that kind of got confirmed. But even since then I’ve seen drastic growth, from the attention, from the understanding, the appreciation, all those things, from the fanbase to local business owners, whatever it might be, to where you can walk down the street seven years ago people wouldn’t recognize you, wouldn’t say anything to you."

Since their founding, the Impact have won three titles, Canadian Championships in 2008, 2013 and 2014, which they will celebrate during a halftime ceremony on Monday. They also reached the final of the Concacaf Champions League in 2014-15, just the second MLS team and first Canadian side to reach the final under the CCL format.

“Now, there’s certainly a difference there and that’s a good thing because you want to feel like you’re doing something that is, maybe not appreciated but there’s purpose to what you’re doing," Bush continued. "And I feel over the past seven years you can just look from the training facilities to the stadiums to where we are now, there’s been a huge improvement and the only reason for those improvements is because there are reasons for those being justified, and the justification comes from the attention surrounding it.”