On Wednesday, January 7, Major League Soccer released their 2015 schedule.
The Montreal Impact will be playing a number of key games over the course of the year, as they try to avenge what was a disappointing 2014 campaign (to say the least).
Here are some key dates fans should circle on their calendars;
January 15 – MLS SuperDraft: The Impact hold the third overall pick in the annual entry draft. Frank Klopas and co. will be looking to add a some young talent that has come through the college system. Last year’s first round pick Eric Miller had a promising 2014, and 2013’s selection Blake Smith will be looking to earn a starting spot this season.
January 23 – Training Camp: Training Camp will open on January 23, a month and a day ahead of the team’s first competitive match. It will be the first time the new look defense will be on the pitch together, and Ignacio Piatti will be seeing his first action since undergoing offseason knee surgery.
February 24, March 3 – v. Pachuca: The Impact will be playing Mexican club Pachuca in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League. The return leg at the Big O will undoubtedly be a match to remember, as fans are expected to turn out in numbers. If Montreal advances, it will be the first time the club (going back to the NASL/USL Impact) will appearing in the semi-finals of the event.
March 7 – @DC United: After the Champions League, it’s right down to business in regular season play. Montreal will open the season on the road versus D.C. and then the New England Revolution a week later. It is a tough test to open up the year, as the 2014 Eastern Conference Champions and 2014 MLS Cup runners-up, respectively, will not want to disappoint their home crowds.
March 28 – v. Orlando City SC: The Impact will play its home opener at Stade Saputo against the expansion club. The match will be extra special, as Montreal will face Brazilian legend Kaka, U.S. superstar Brek Shea, and former IMFC squad members Donovan Ricketts and Heath Pearce.
April 11 – @ Houston Dynamo: Aside from TFC and the Vancouver Whitecaps, the Houston Dynamo are the closest thing Montreal has to a rivalry in MLS. Fans need not be reminded of their 2013 playoff game. In 2014, Houston won the season series 2-1, despite Montreal having a better goal differential in their three matches. The clubs will only play once this time around and it guarantees to be exciting.Aug 30, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Fire defender Bakary Soumare (4) during the first half at Toyota Park. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
May 30 – @ Chicago Fire: In his first press conference as a member of the Impact, new centre back Bakary Soumare said he was disappointed in the state of his former club, the Chicago Fire. Now the fans can express their disappointment in his comments, as IMFC roll into Toyota Park. If they want to improve on last year’s performance, these are must win games for the Impact.
June 3 – v. Vancouver Whitecaps: The Whitecaps will travel to Stade Saputo to take on their Canadian rivals. Unless the two meet in the Canadian Championship, this will be the only meeting all season. Montreal has never beaten the Whitecaps in MLS play. Could that change this time around?
June 13 – @ NYCFC: Montreal will head to the legendary Yankee Stadium for the first time ever to play the second expansion club, New York City FC. Much like Orlando, NYCFC have made a big splash by signing high-profile players, such as David Villa and Frank Lampard. Also on the roster is former Impact fan favorite, Jeb Brovsky.
September 12 – @ LA Galaxy: The Impact have a late season test against the defending MLS Cup champions, the LA Galaxy. Although Landon Donovan is gone, LA will have former Liverpool FC and England captain Steven Gerrard by then. If IMFC are anywhere near a playoff spot at this point in the season, this will be an important game.
October 25 – v. Toronto FC: The two Eastern Canadian clubs will renew hostilities on three occasions in 2015; June 24 and August 29 in T.O., and then against a week before Halloween in Montreal. The teams had a dramatic final game in last season, when Montreal ended TFC’s playoff hopes in a match where cards were a plenty. With the playoff format being expanded, could this last game of the regular season dictate who gets into the post season and who misses out? I doubt it, but MLS schedule makers will be beaming if it does.