The Montreal Impact are having a rough year in Major League Soccer, and in their third MLS season, they are looking to change their strategy for the future.
The team’s owner Joey Saputo announced sweeping changes that won’t have an immediate impact on the field but are headed in that direction.
The biggest announcement was probably the building of a full training facility with two grass fields and two artificial fields on Notre-Dame street not far from Saputo Stadium. Both the academy and first teams will be hosted there and the synthetic fields will also be used by local teams in the community.
It is an attempt to become more attractive to top talent. Currently, the team practices at Centre Claude Robillard, a facility that first opened for the 1976 Olympics and does not belong to the team.
Another major change is the addition of a new USL Pro team. The team, FC Montreal, will be a new professional team that will allow young Quebec players to grow on a professional level before making the jump to MLS. The team will replace the current Reserve league team the team has.
"“It is a major change in our structure and the development of soccer in Quebec,” said Saputo in a press release. “This new team will serve as the final step and transition for our young players before joining MLS. We believe that it is the best way to prepare them for the top league in North American soccer.”"
The team also announced some new roles including one for former technical director Nick De Santis. From the team’s press release:
"The Impact also announced that Richard Legendre will become the new Executive Vice-President of Soccer Operations and Stade Saputo. He will oversee soccer operations, the construction of the new training centre, the launch of the new USL team and the administrative management of the technical department. He will also be the club representative at the Fédération de Soccer du Québec, the Canadian Soccer Association and the US Soccer Federation.Nick De Santis has been appointed as the Director of International Business Development. He will be responsible for establishing and maintaining contacts, while forging partnerships with clubs targeted around the world.“Due to the growth and success of the Academy, we want to establish a more coherent philosophy at all levels and a better defined identity,” said Saputo. “We want to offer better guidance to our young players, becoming the leader of Quebec soccer here and around the world.”Finally, the club will implement various technical partnerships with amateur clubs across the province to help them progress, but also to better track the best young local talent.“Today, we are making a firm commitment to continue our growth, both on the field and off of it,” concluded Saputo. “We will continue to build this club in order to bring it to the highest level.”"