SAN FRANCISCO – On the day his first professional club made its top-flight hometown debut in front of a record crowd, Andre Hainault says there was never a chance he was going back to the Montreal Impact.
“I know there was interest,” he told MLSsoccer.com after Houston’s 1-0 win over San Jose at AT&T Park on Saturday, “but I was very clear from the start that I didn’t want to go.”
Speculation ran high after Montreal selected Brian Ching in last November’s Expansion Draft that the Impact would try to leverage the veteran striker as part of a deal for Hainault, a Montreal native and a potentially coveted defensive piece around whom the Impact could build.
But the Dynamo defender didn’t end up being part of the eventual trade that sent Ching back to Houston.
Still, Hainault wishes his hometown team well, and was not a bit surprised by the near-59,000 who turned out to see the Impact draw the Chicago Fire 1-1 at Olympic Stadium on Saturday.
“They already had a good fan base there to start with, so I knew, coming into this league, everything around it, I knew it was going to increase,” the Canadian international said.
Hainault cited the Montreal’s previous record draw – 55,571 for a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal victory over Santos Laguna in 2009 – as evidence the club would succeed in MLS. But there’s no love lost for the team with whom he began his pro career in 2004.
“I hope they do well,” the Dynamo man cracked, “just not against us.”