Impact de Montréal (or Montreal Impact) is a men’s professional soccer team that plays in Major League Soccer (MLS). The club was originally founded in 1992 and played in a number of professional soccer leagues before joining MLS for the 2012 season. The team plays at Stade Saputo in Montréal and is operated by the Saputo family. L’Impact won the Voyageurs Cup six times (2002–07) and the Canadian Championship three times (2008, 2013, 2014). The club has made it to MLS playoffs three times (2013, 2015, 2016), getting as far as the Eastern Conference finals in 2016. In 2015, they became the first Canadian club to reach the CONCACAF Champions League final, which Montréal lost. The club is one of three MLS franchises in Canada, including Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

History of Soccer in Montréal

From the early 20th century, Montréal played an influential role in the development of Canadian soccer. Factory and works teams based in Montréal (amateur clubs that were financed and run by manufacturers or businesses) did very well on a national scale. In 1919, the Grand Trunk team, based in Montréal, won the Challenge Trophy, one of the oldest soccer tournaments in Canada, against the Winnipeg War Veterans. Later championships went to Canadian National (1929) and Montréal Carsteel (1948), positioning Montréal as a perennial contender. The same teams had regular victories in the National Soccer League (NSL), a semi-professional circuit founded in 1926. The NSL continues as the Canadian Soccer League (CSL).

When the Eastern Canada Professional Soccer League (ECPSL) started in 1961, Montréal was represented in the four-team league by Montréal Cantalia. The club won the first ECPSL championship, defeating Toronto Italia in a three-game series. The league folded in 1966, the year before the United Soccer Association and the National Professional Soccer League kicked off. Those circuits merged in 1968, forming the National American Soccer League (NASL). Montréal was without representation in the new professional league until 1971, when Olympique de Montréal began play. The club played for three seasons with little success before folding at the end of the 1973 season. Scottish international Graeme Souness was on loan with the club in summer 1972.

The NASL returned to Montréal in 1981, when Philadelphia Fury was relocated and rebranded as Manic de Montréal. Interest in “Le Manic” was initially high, and on 2 September 1981, 58,542 fans filled the Olympic Stadium for a playoff game against Chicago Sting. The club enjoyed mild success, finishing second in the 1983 NASL Grand Prix of Indoor soccer, but folded after the 1983 outdoor season. The team had several hall-of-fame players, including Gerry Gray, Dale Mitchell, John McGrane and Carmine Marcantonio (Soccer Hall of Fame and Museum), and Alan Willey and Bobby Smith for the National Soccer Hall of Fame in the United States.

In 1988, professional soccer returned to the city, when Montreal Supra joined the CSL. The Supra stayed in the league until its demise in 1992, never advancing past the first stage of the playoffs. Supra ownership was reluctant to bring the team into the American Professional Soccer League (APSL). Instead, Joey Saputo, whose family owned and operated the Saputo dairy company, took much of the Supra coaching staff and players and formed the core of a new club, Impact de Montréal.

Early Years of l'Impact

Impact de Montréal joined the APSL at the start of the 1993 season. Despite finishing its first season in last place, the club went on to achieve great success, winning its first league title in just its second season (1994). After a strong regular season (12 wins, 8 losses) and third place finish in the league, the club went on to beat Los Angeles Salsa and Colorado Foxes — two very strong sides — in the playoffs. This Montréal team included future Hall of Famer Nick Dasovic.

Montréal remained strong in the APSL, finishing top of its regular season tables in 1995, 1996, 1997, 2005 and 2006. During its time in the league, l’Impact developed a healthy rivalry with Rochester Raging Rhinos, losing out to the Rhinos in the playoffs four times before finally beating them in 2004, on l’Impact’s way to its second championship.

Montréal won the 2009 USL First Division title, beating Vancouver Whitecaps 6–3 on aggregate in a two-legged final. This win was a fitting send off, as Impact de Montréal played one more season with USL before moving to the NASL for the 2011 season. They stayed there for one season — amassing a 9–8–11 record and missing the playoffs — before moving to MLS.

The 2009 player-of-the-season award, the Giuseppe Saputo Trophy, was awarded to midfielder David Testo. Two years later, he made headlines when he came out as gay during an interview with Radio-Canada, the first American professional soccer player to do so. Testo announced that his teammates, trainers and team management were aware of his sexuality.

Testo was cut by l’Impact ahead of the club’s transition to the MLS. He had previously stated that his comfort in Montréal with his teammates, the owners and the city had led him to turn down offers from MLS teams (when l’Impact was still in the USL).

Club Troubles

After Joey Saputo relinquished club ownership to a group of local businessmen in the spring of 1999, the decision was made not to play in the 1999 outdoor season. It was ostensibly to prepare for the 1999–2000 NPSL Indoor season, but was widely reported to be the result of a dispute with the league. The club went bankrupt during the 2001 season, leading the league to administer the team to the end of the season. Afterward, a deal was struck between the province of Québec, Hydro-Québec and Joey Saputo to guarantee the club’s existence for the next five years.

L'Impact and MLS

L'Impact had set its sights on MLS as early as the summer of 2008, when MLS commissioner Don Garber stated an interest in adding two more franchises for the 2011 season. Montréal was not chosen as one of these teams, though one of the slots was awarded to the Vancouver Whitecaps. The official announcement for Impact de Montréal’s entry to the league was made on 7 May 2010, giving Joey Saputo two years to get his team into shape for the higher level of play and to expand Stade Saputo. Olympic Stadium was slated to host games as well, largely in the early parts of the season when the weather in Montréal makes outdoor play difficult. (The club continues to use Olympic Stadium, playing at least their home opener there in every season since.)

Impact de Montréal is a separate legal entity from the club’s earlier iterations due to the particular nature of MLS club ownership. L’Impact retained its name, team colours and past victories, but developed a new logo and visual identity ahead of its first MLS season.

The club’s first MLS game was on 10 March 2012 against Vancouver Whitecaps; Montréal lost 2–0. Their first home game was on 17 March 2012 and ended in a 1–1 tie with Chicago Fire. Midfielder Davy Arnaud scored the club’s first MLS goal in the 56th minute in front of 58,912 fans, a record number for a professional soccer game in Montréal. The team’s first win came against Toronto FC on 7 April, l'Impact emerging with a 2–1 win in the “401 Derby.” Montréal finished the 2012 season with a record of 12–16–6 and missed the playoffs. Saputo built the team around older players from Italian league Serie A, including such luminaries as Nelson Rivas, Matteo Ferrari, Alessandro Nesta and Marco Di Vaio. Canadian veteran midfielder Patrice Bernier scored nine goals and provided eight assists, winning team MVP for the inaugural season.

The 2013 season started well, as l'Impact won four straight games. Marco Di Vaio found his feet, scoring 20 goals over the course of the year, and winning player-of-the-week honours twice. Di Vaio was also included in the 2013 MLS All-Star Game, along with Bernier. Montréal’s form settled down as the season wore on and the team finished with a 14–13–7 record, which qualified l’Impact for the playoffs. Their first playoff game was on 31 October 2013 against Houston Dynamo, who won 3–0.

The 2014 season was heralded by a coaching change, as Marco Schällibaum, who had only been in charge for one season, was replaced by Frank Klopas. Alessandro Nesta retired at the end of the previous season and Siniša Ubiparipović, who had been with the team since their days in the NASL, had his contract option declined. With off-field matters so unsettled, l'Impact was unable to pick up a win until its eighth game of the season. Though Canadian international Issey Nakajima-Farran, American sensation Jack McInerney and Argentinian veteran Ignacio Piatti were brought to the team mid-season, it was not enough to turn the season around. Montréal finished in last place with a record of 6–18–10.

Many changes were made in the 2014–15 off-season, as Marco Di Vaio retired and Matteo Ferrari left the club. Saputo signed four players to permanent contracts: Marco Donadel from Italy, Belgian international Laurent Ciman, Andrés Romero from Argentina, and Cameroonian international Ambroise Oyongo, acquired in a trade with New York Red Bulls. The squad started the season slowly, struggling until head coach Frank Klopas was replaced with Mauro Biello after the 29 August loss to Toronto FC. The upturn in fortunes also aligned with the arrival of Didier Drogba in late July. The Côte d'Ivoire icon went on to score 11 goals in 11 regular season games, powering Montréal to its second playoff run. Drogba continued his goal scoring form in the Knockout Round against Toronto FC, whom Montréal beat 3–0. Impact de Montréal lost to Columbus Crew in overtime in the next round.

Montréal finished the 2016 regular season in fifth place in the MLS Eastern Conference. The club’s record of 11 wins, 11 losses and 12 ties brought them to Knockout Round of the MLS Playoffs, where they met DC United. L’Impact beat United in Washington on the strength of four unanswered goals from Lauren Ciman, Matteo Mancosu (2) and Ignacio Piatti. DC United pulled back two late-game goals, but Montréal won 4–2.

Montréal faced the top-ranked New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference semifinals and won the first leg of the series 1–0 at home with a strong defend-and-counter style of play. They brought the same strategy to New York City for the second leg and beat the Red Bulls 2–1. Montréal won the series 3–1 on aggregate, reaching the Eastern Conference Championship for the first time in club history. They were also the first Canadian club to reach an MLS conference final; hours later, conference rivals Toronto FC became the second. The two teams would meet for an all-Canadian conference final.

The first leg of the Eastern Conference final was played at Olympic Stadium before a sold-out crowd of 61,004. L’Impact scored three unanswered goals in the first 53 minutes of play, before Toronto answered with two. The second leg, played at a rain-soaked BMO Field on 30 November in Toronto, finished 3–2 for TFC after 90 minutes, bringing the series to a 5–5 draw on aggregate. Toronto FC scored two goals in the first half of extra time, bringing the match score to 5–2 for TFC, who won the series 7–5 on aggregate.

Canadian Championship and Voyageurs Cup

The Voyageurs Cup was introduced in 2002 as an award for the best Canadian team in the USL A-League. At that time, the cup was open to the Impact de Montréal, Toronto Lynx, Calgary Storm and Vancouver Whitecaps. In 2008, the trophy was awarded to the winner of the Canadian Championship, a tournament that determined the Canadian entrant to the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Champions League. Impact de Montréal has won the Voyageurs Cup a total of nine times.

Montréal won from 2002 to 2007, and claimed victory in the first iteration of the Canadian Championship in 2008 — a streak of seven titles. The 2013 championship was a big consolation for Montréal, who were enduring a poor MLS season. The tournament included a 6–0 semifinal win over Toronto FC and a tense final against Vancouver Whitecaps. Montréal won the two-legged final on away goals, the winning goal coming from defender Hassoun Camara in the 84th minute.

Montréal won the 2014 championship, beating Toronto FC 2–1 on aggregate in the final.

CONCACAF Champions League

L'Impact first played in the CONCACAF Champions League in 2008–09, when they were still technically a second division team. They not only made it to the Group Stage, but finished second in their group on tiebreaking procedures. This left them with a tough quarter-final against Santos Laguna, a perennial power in Mexican soccer. Montréal won the first leg 2–0 in front of 55,571 fans at Olympic Stadium, but were beaten 5–2 in Torreón, Mexico. L'Impact lost 5–4 on aggregate. Their showing in the 2013–14 Champions League was less exciting and ended during the group stage.

During their 2014–15 run, Montréal finished top of its three-team pool without losing a game. They went on to face Mexico’s CF Pachuca in the quarter-finals and tied the first leg. Though Pachuca took the lead in the 80th minute of the second leg, Montréal’s Cameron Porter, playing in only his second professional game, scored his first professional goal in the 94th minute. Montréal was the first Canadian team to beat a Mexican team in the knockout rounds of the Champions League.

L’Impact beat Costa Rican side Alajuelense 2–0 in the first leg of the semifinals in Montréal and lost the second leg 4–2 in Costa Rica, beating Alajuelense on away goals. As a result, l’Impact became the first Canadian club to reach the Champions League finals. The first leg was played on 22 April 2015 at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City against Club América. Montréal took an early lead on an Ignacio Piatti goal, before América equalized in the 89th minute. Even so, a 1–1 tie away from home was a strong result. A record crowd of 61,004 made the trip to Olympic Stadium in Montréal to watch the second and deciding leg. It started well, as Andrés Romero scored in the eighth minute to put l'Impact ahead, and they went in at half-time leading 2–1 on aggregate. The second half was an unfortunate end, as América scored four unanswered goals. The game ended 4–2, and l’Impact finished runner-up.

Fan Culture


Impact de Montréal has several official supporters’ groups. Ultra Montréal (UM02), founded in 2002, supported the team during its days in the USL A-League. Founded during the 2011 NASL season, 127 Montréal take their name from the section of Stade Saputo in which they stand. Started during the 2015 season, 1642MTL is named for the year in which Montréal was founded. These groups all support the team through chants, songs and visual displays.


Youth Teams

Impact de Montréal founded its academy in 2010 after its previous reserve club, Trois-Rivières Attak, suspended play. The club operates four teams, ranging from under-13s to under-18s. They initially started play in the Canadian Soccer League, staying with that circuit until 2012, the year before the CSL lost its accreditation from the Canadian Soccer Association after match-fixing allegations. The teams then moved to the U.S. Soccer Development Academy. The senior club has signed several players from the academy, including Canadian internationals Karl Ouimette, Maxime Crépeau, Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé, Wandrille Lefèvre and Maxim Tissot.

In 2015, FC Montréal started play in the United Soccer League. This is the reserve team of Impact de Montréal, and they play their home games at Complexe sportif Claude-Robillard. There is often roster movement between FC Montréal and the parent club, with the reserve side designed to provide an opportunity for younger players to develop before fighting for a place in the MLS squad.

Voyageurs Cup and Canadian Championship Results

2002

Team

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

PTS

Impact de Montréal

5

0

1

12

5

+7

15

Toronto Lynx

4

1

1

15

6

+9

13

Vancouver Whitecaps

2

1

3

8

8

0

7

Calgary Storm

0

0

6

4

20

-16

0

2003

Team

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

PTS

Impact de Montréal

4

1

1

12

4

+8

13

Toronto Lynx

4

0

2

9

7

+2

12

Vancouver Whitecaps

3

1

2

7

5

+2

10

Calgary Storm

0

0

6

2

14

-12

0

2004

Team

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

PTS

Impact de Montréal

5

3

0

13

2

+11

18

Toronto Lynx

4

1

3

13

12

+1

13

Edmonton Aviators

3

2

3

11

14

-3

11

Vancouver Whitecaps

2

2

4

8

13

-5

8

Calgary Mustangs

1

2

5

10

14

-4

5

2005

Team

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

PTS

Impact de Montréal

4

0

0

5

1

+4

12

Vancouver Whitecaps

1

1

2

1

2

-1

4

Toronto Lynx

0

1

3

1

4

-3

1

2006

Team

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

PTS

Impact de Montréal

1

3

0

3

2

+1

6

Toronto Lynx

1

2

1

3

4

-1

5

Vancouver Whitecaps

1

1

2

4

4

0

4

2007

Team

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

PTS

Impact de Montréal

1

1

0

2

0

+2

4

Vancouver Whitecaps

0

1

1

0

2

-2

1

2008

Team

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

PTS

Impact de Montréal

2

1

1

5

2

+3

7

Toronto FC

1

2

1

4

4

0

5

Vancouver Whitecaps

1

1

2

3

6

-3

4

2013

Semifinal

First Leg

Toronto FC

20

Impact de Montréal

Second Leg

Impact de Montréal

6–0

Toronto FC

Result

L'Impact win 6–2 on aggregate (combined goals)

Final

First Leg

Impact de Montréal

0–0

Vancouver Whitecaps

Second Leg

Vancouver Whitecaps

2–2

Impact de Montréal

Result

L'Impact win on away goals rule*

*In the event of an aggregate tie, goals scored on the road count double.

2014

Semifinal

First Leg

FC Edmonton

2–1

Impact de Montréal

Second Leg

Impact de Montréal

4–2

FC Edmonton

Result

L'Impact win 5–4 on aggregate

Final

First Leg

Toronto FC

1–1

Impact de Montréal

Second Leg

Impact de Montréal

1–0

Toronto FC

Result

L'Impact win 2–1 on aggregate

Hall of Fame Members

Nick Dasovic
Jason deVos
Lyndon Hooper
John Limniatis