Wilmer Cabrera coaching - Montreal Impact
Montreal Impact

Montreal Impact dismissed Garde with heavy heart, optimistic about Cabrera

The decision to move on from Remi Garde is not one the Montreal Impact took lightly and the club will continue to hold their now-former coach in high regard.

Montreal announced Wednesday that Garde had been relieved of his duties and replaced by Wilmer Cabrera, who had been let go by the Houston Dynamo just last week. Garde and the Impact had just one win in their last eight matches, though remained tied for the Eastern Conference final playoff place and are in the Canadian Championship final.

“Sometimes you have to make tough decisions that hurt really good people," Impact president Kevin Gilmore told reporters at a news conference Thursday. "I made a decision that hurt really good people; Remi, [departing assistant coaches] Joel [Bats] and Robert [Duverne]. I have an enormous amount of respect for Remi, his professionalism and work ethic is second to none. He’s raised the bar for what we will expect from coaches moving forward, he’s raised it high. It’s his legacy to this organization.”

Gilmore confirmed that the club had been in negotiations over a new, long-term deal with Garde up until a week and a half ago.

With a huge Canadian Classique match this weekend against Toronto FC (Saturday, 7:30 pm ET | TVAS, TSN in Canada, MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US) -- one of the clubs level on points with Montreal for that final playoff place in the Eastern Conference -- the timing took many by surprise. So, why now?

“We were left with two choices: We could sit on the sidelines, as we’ve done for the past month and a half hoping things would change, or we could act," Gilmore explained. "For the betterment of this club, I decided it was time to act.”  

Remi Garde looks on | USA Today Sports

Cabrera, who ended his time with the Dynamo having won just two of his last 14 games, empathizes with Garde.

“I know the feeling, because I was released 10-15 days ago from the Houston Dynamo and it was a surprise situation to me," Cabrera said. "I know the feeling and I want to send my respect to Remi and his staff. The few times I interacted with him, he was a great person. He’s been doing great as a coach, it’s a difficult situation for us as coaches but that’s our profession.”

With just a few days before his debut for the club, as well as three midweek games left this season across league and Canadian Championship play, meaningful time on the training ground for Cabrera will be limited. 

“It’s not going to be easy," Cabrera admitted. "I noticed the team suffered a lot of goals on set pieces. Today, it looks like we practiced that for the first time. That’s an adjustment. If the players respond well trying to adjust little details, that’s what we’re trying to do."

The lack of preparation time is why it was so important to the club's decision-makers that they brought in a coach with MLS experience. Montreal still have high hopes for the rest of this season.

“The objectives are very clear: Qualifying for the MLS playoffs and [winning] the Canadian Championship," Gilmore said. "Nine games. I made it very clear to [the players] that we have a new coach, it’s a new day and we have a specific goal we plan on achieving.”

It starts Saturday for Cabrera in his new job, already facing pressure but optimistic about the future. 

"Coaches are tools for the players to be successful," Cabrera explained. "If we’re good tools, we’ll be used. If we’re not a good tool, we’ll be disposed and the next tool will be coming. I’m going to try and be a good tool for the players, if they’re successful, maybe I’ll be talking in French for a long time.”

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