The Montreal Impact’s 2-0 win on Saturday was a theoretical passing of the torch for sports in Montreal. It was literally the same night that the Montreal Canadiens would have played Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers. That game was obviously not played.
The Impact got off to a horrible start to the season but seemed to have turned it around at the best possible time – when eyes will be on them. Forget the Canadian Championship tonight against Toronto FC – I’m talking about in general.
There is no question that the Canadiens are number one in this city and no one else is close. It is also true that there are a lot of Canadiens fans who do not like soccer. But the two are not mutually exclusive. Now, there is only one team in town.
The Montreal Alouettes – another popular summer/fall sports team – have gotten training camp off to a start but there’s almost a guarantee of a work stoppage that will affect at least some part of camp if not part of the season.
The sports world in this city is quite literally the Impact’s right now. And they have a real chance to convert sports fans into casual fans and casual fans into bigger fans.
I’ve attended literally one Impact game in my lifetime: A Canadian championship game against Vancouver at Stade Saputo that pre-dated the Impact in Major League Soccer. During the game, it was discovered the tickets – that were given to me from someone – were stolen.
Me and my wife ended up leaving the game to avoid the glaring stares of the people whose tickets were stolen (even though the Impact provided us with alternate seats) and because they were already losing by multiple goals at halftime.
There are a lot of soccer fans in Montreal. If you don’t believe me, just walk around St Laurent starting next Thursday. A lot of these people are Impact fans but a lot aren’t. Again, the World Cup brings an opportunity for them to get some support outside of their normal supporters.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that the Impact don’t get support – they do. It’s just a way to grow their base.
A good few weeks – especially if the Alouettes are delayed in any way – could really get them a bigger pool of fans. They have a chance to fill the summer void of sports fans who don’t want to discuss how the Canadiens are spending their off-season or which Canadiens legend is making fun of which Canadiens current player.
This is a golden opportunity for the Impact. Their mandatory Olympic Stadium stand is behind them. The weather is turning. And their worst stretch of the season to date was probably ignored by most casual fans. If they can string a couple of good results together – and maybe even another Canadian Championship – it may just all come together at a perfect time for them.
Tonight’s game is at Stade Saputo against Toronto FC and is the final leg of the Canadian Championship. Kick off is at 7:30 p.m.