MONTREAL – With 48 hours until the Montreal Impact’s long-awaited MLS home debut, the club on Thursday gave fans a taste of what’s to come.
Around 2,000 fans turned up at Olympic Stadium for an “open house,” which included an official team introduction and a 90-minute training session ahead of Saturday's match vs. Chicago (2 pm ET, TSN/RDS in Canada, MLS Live in USA).
Fans welcomed the Impact players with standing ovations, with the loudest cheers reserved for defender Hassoun Camara, midfielders Patrice Bernier and Davy Arnaud, striker Eduardo Sebrango and head coach Jesse Marsch, who appeared impressed by the number of fans on hand for what was, in essence, a public team practice.
“It’s good to have people come and support the guys,” Marsch told reporters. “We start to feel the energy of the city. We’ve been gone so much that we haven’t had the chance to understand all the support that’s behind us.”
The club also set up a team shop and skills games under the stands, which gave the event a family feel. Organized support did, however, instill a tad of soccer atmosphere into the open house – and the players appreciated it.
“We were coming in with our cars and saw everyone lined up [to get into the stadium],” said defender Jeb Brovsky. “It was a pretty special feeling. The Montreal fans are some of the best.”
It was also a special night for forward Bernardo Corradi, whose signing with the club was officially announced on Thursday morning. The former Italian international, who will wear No. 23, met the Montreal supporters for the first time. Many fans could be heard shouting the Corradi’s name in the hope that he would sign their jerseys, which he duly did.
“It was amazing,” Corradi admitted. “I didn’t expect so many people to come watch a training session. I think the atmosphere will be even better on Saturday.”