MONTREAL – Nothing compares to coming back home.
More than 17,000 Montrealers lined up at the gates more than an hour before kick off in anticipation of the re-opening of Stade Saputo, the Impact’s home since 2008. Once inside and into their seats, they passed on their energy to the squad, who repaid their passion with a dominating 4-1 win over the visiting Seattle Sounders.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber was on hand for this landmark in Montreal soccer lore and seemed most pleased with the work accomplished in such short time by Impact president Joey Saputo and his staff.
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“It’s another great, historic night for Major League Soccer. I’m very, very, very impressed with the stadium,” Garber told reporters. “Obviously, when we came together with the Saputo family, we knew about the renovation, but I never dreamed it would be like this.”
The game’s main cast was also chuffed by the experience of playing in their new home. The Montreal Impact retired the No. 12 jersey for their supporters, who cheered, sang, and banged noise sticks all night long. The Ultras filled the West End, leading the crowd in refrains of their favorite chant: "Allez, Allez, Montreal."
“We feel that 12th player is there,” midfielder Patrice Bernier said. “Throughout the game, the fans were there, even during downtimes when we had less energy. It’s a great win, and let’s hope we’ll keep on winning home games with crowds like these.”
As the coordinator of his squad, head coach Jesse Marsch could not help but feel the communication on the field was sometimes hampered, but he also recognized the atmosphere made a difference.
“I think it was hard to communicate on the field, but, you know, it was a lot of great energy,” Marsch explained. “It kind of went in waves a little bit, but in the second half, you could feel the sense of pride in the fans. I think they’ve sort of seen some good things in our team and are almost waiting for it all to come together in the right way.
"Tonight, we showed that it is coming along, that this is a good team and that we’re going to continue to get better."