Montreal Impact Archive


Garber hints that Canadian-player rules in MLS may change: Why we need to look at minutes played, not roster spots

Don Garber

Don Garber

In a Facebook chat with fans held on Monday, MLS Commissioner Don Garber was greeted with the thorny question about Canadian players in the league.

Francis Ghanimé asked him: “Will Canadian players ever stop counting as internationals for American clubs?”

And this was the answer from the commish.

“We are working on a new approach to our international player rules as they relate to Canada. Stay tuned.”

We have asked MLS for more clarification on the issue.

But, we do know the rules as they pertain to Canadians are on the radar. We also know the Canadian Soccer Association has lobbied MLS to changes the rules so Canadians are seen as domestic players, league wide. This would then put MLS on an equal footing with USL-PRO, which allows Canadians to be domestics on U.S. clubs.

Right now, the Canadian teams are required to each carry three Canadian players on their rosters. On the U.S. teams, Canadians are counted as international players and take up roster space that many American teams would prefer to give to players from, well, sexier parts of the soccer world. Meanwhile, on Canadian teams, Americans are seen as domestics.

The timing is interesting. We know CSA has been pushing for changes for a while. But, now, the CSA has gone public with its stated goal of having Canada’s own “Division 1A” (CLICK HERE or see issue 2 of Plastic Pitch), and reports continue that NASL, CFL owners and the CSA are discussing the formation of a Canadian division — something that NASL won’t deny, but says it simply can’t comment on… at this time.

So, pressure is no doubt building on MLS.
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Montagliani’s vision: A Canadian Division 1A that “coexists” with MLS, NASL

Victor Montagliani

Victor Montagliani

The second issue of Plastic Pitch, released today, features a 16-page section on Canada’s bid for the 2026 World Cup, with stories from five different writers.

(For those new to us, Plastic Pitch is our dedicated magazine for iPad, smartphones and Android readers — you can get either issue 1 or 2 or subscribe through iTunes, Newsstand, Google Play or Amazon, links at the bottom of the article)

But, there’s one part of that World Cup section that’s sure to get a lot of attention. And that’s the stated Canadian Soccer Association goal of an all-Canadian Division One — or “1A,” as CSA President Victor Montagliani called it in our interview.

Say it with me. An all-Canadian league. Division one, not two or three or four.

Over the last year, I’d heard whispers about the possibility of an all-Canadian Division One. But getting anyone to confirm that… well, that was the thing. It was like the Great White Whale. Now, it’s out there. Officially. The recognition that Canada needs its own league; that we can’t redefine our developmental pyramid unless a Canadian Division One — which puts the interest of Canadian soccer at the forefront — is at the top.
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Issue 2 of Plastic Pitch: An in-depth look at Canada’s 2026 World Cup bid

PPitch2_SUMMER_UNCORRECTEDAs we enjoy the current World Cup action from Brazil, Canadians can wonder what it would be like to host the world 12 years from now.

Can we afford it? How far are we into our bid for the 2026 World Cup? What kind of support exists from CONCACAF? And what would happen to all of the hard work that’s already gone into the bid if FIFA takes the 2022 World Cup away from Qatar and gives it to the United States?

The second issue of Plastic Pitch, out today, features a 16-page section on Canada’s bid for the World Cup. Get it today on iOS(CLICK HERE), Google Play(CLICK HERE) or Amazon(CLICK HERE). For current subscribers, just grab the new issue when you open the app.
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The anticlimactic final: Montreal wins Canadian title

trophyIf you were to review the finale of the 2014 Amway Canadian Championship, you might liken it to the final season of Dexter. The bizarre final episode of Seinfeld.

Like so many TV series that don’t really know how to end on a high note, the final impression of this year’s tournament to determine Canada’s soccer champion will be remembered as the denouement, not the climax.

Montreal won Wednesday’s second leg of the final 1-0 at home, giving itself a 2-1 aggregate triumph over Toronto FC. The goal, from Felipe, came off a rebound from a Marco Di Vaio shot that had crashed off the crossbar. The goal came at the death, as TFC was pushing men forward, playing four natural attackers, in hopes of erasing that Impact away goal from the first leg.

But, despite TFC’s heavy artillery up front, finishing the game with Jermaine Defoe, Luke Moore, Gilberto and Dwayne De Rosario looking to score, the Reds rarely looked like they wanted to score. The real story was that it took 82 minutes for the match to come to life. TFC’s Jonathan Osorio cut across Impact defender Karl Ouimette, and lashed a low shot across keeper Evan Bush. The ball came off the post.
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Jekyll-and-Hyde Impact gets vital away goal in Toronto

Justin Mapp

Justin Mapp

If there’s one thing that this year’s Amway Canadian Championship has taught us — it’s that you can’t possibly figure out the Montreal Impact.

This teams goes from “off” to “on” so often, it’s like the soccer version of a strobe light. It’s not as if this team goes from good to bad from game to game; you see the Jekyll-and-Hyde transformations at least a few times per game.

The Impact got a positive result, a 1-1 draw against Toronto at BMO Field, in Wednesday’s first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship final. But how the Impact got there was anything but straightforward.

For the entire first half, the Impact looked as if it was doing it’s best not to threaten Toronto’s goal. Yes, it was a bit of a shock to have Nelson Rivas come back from a lengthy injury spell, make his first touch in the second minute, shake his head, and then leave the field. But professionals need to recover and focus.
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The Issey Nakajima-Farran trade: The kind of transaction MLS needs to avoid if it wants to be a world-class league

On Wednesday, Issey Nakajima-Farran celebrated a Voyageurs' Cup win with keeper Joe Bendik. On Friday, he was traded. PHOTO: CANADA SOCCER/BOB FRID

On Wednesday, Issey Nakajima-Farran celebrated a Voyageurs’ Cup win with keeper Joe Bendik. On Friday, he was traded. PHOTO: CANADA SOCCER/BOB FRID

It wasn’t a trade that would go down as one of the biggest transactions in MLS history, in terms of on-the-field pieces.

On Friday, Toronto FC sent Canadian national team veteran Issey Nakajima-Farran to the Montreal Impact for Collen Warner. Some allocation money was involved. Outside of the fact the Nakajima-Farran has been in and out of the national side of late, the news wouldn’t be making anyone imagine new glories for the two football clubs involved.

But, in terms of how MLS is seen, and how it wants to be seen, this is a prime example of how the league must change if it truly wants to be one of the world’s best by 2020.
Nakajima-Farran, a player who has spent most of his career abroad, came to Toronto FC just after the start of the current season. He scored some goals. He was still in the process of getting settled and, less than two months after first donning the TFC shirt, he was told he was getting traded.

Sure, no big deal, right? Trades happen all the time. It could happen to an NHLer or an NBA rookie or a baseball veteran.

But, that’s the issue. If MLS wants to attract talent from abroad to boost the league, it must eventually understand that strictly following North American practises — such as trading a player just a few weeks after he’s been offered a contract — don’t sit well in the global soccer marketplace. MLS must compete for talent with leagues that regularly pay for their players’ accommodations and transportation, and who guarantee a player will be settled for the length of his contract. If a player is to be sold, his agent is consulted. There are no surprises like showing up for training to find out you need to relocate to another city — and can you make the next flight?

Nakajima-Farran took to Twitter right after the trade and put the hashtag #inhumane right next to MLS. He told his followers that he has to leave Toronto, even before his stuff arrives from Spain. Read the rest of this entry »


How FC Edmonton could turn its cursed luck into the marketing campaign it badly needs

FCE's Daryl Fordyce tries to escape Montreal's Calum Mallace in front of the Edmonton Supporters Group last week. PHOTO: FC EDMONTON/TONY LEWIS

FCE’s Daryl Fordyce tries to escape Montreal’s Calum Mallace in front of the Edmonton Supporters Group last week. PHOTO: FC EDMONTON/TONY LEWIS

Chances are, if you saw the soccer headline “Cup semifinal: Officials add six minutes, home team awarded game-winning penalty near end of stoppage time,” you’d roll your eyes and think to yourself about the corruption that plagues matches in Central America or Eastern Europe or Asia. Steaua Edmonton vs. Partizan Montreal.

Now, judging by the reaction on Twitter and message boards — FC Edmonton fans are incensed that, well, the six-minutes-plus-penalty story originated in Canada. And the conspiracy theories abound, as is the nature of any fan of any underdog who feels his or her team of choice was done in by a dubious call.

Last night, referee Drew Fischer ruled that FCE defender Mallan Roberts handled the ball in the penalty area off a 96th-minute free kick, even though the defenders hands were held behind his back. Today, FCE picks up the pieces and wonders how what would have been a franchise-defining Amway Canadian Championship semifinal win over the Montreal Impact turned into a 96th-minute nightmare.

To be fair to Fischer, no one should be talking conspiracy. It’s unfair to call refs cheats unless you have a smoking gun. He made a mistake. He’s human. And, as many Impact fans would argue, he may have missed a penalty call a few minutes before the end of the match, when FCE defender Albert Watson and defender Sanna Nyassi got tangled at the edge of the area and contact continued into the area.

In this case, it’s unfair that a referee can’t speak to the media. Because it’s a lot easier for Fischer to hear or talk about the fact he made a mistake than be accused of being corrupt. They are two entirely different things. And Fischer doesn’t determine how much time added on goes on the board, either.

This is much more a case of what happens when part-time referees are assigned to big games. Referees at this level need to be full-time professionals. Same for any major league or competition in the world. In Europe, we shouldn’t hear about top-tier match officials’ day jobs. Nor should that be the case in North America. But, because we don’t invest in officiating like we should… well, we sorta get what we deserve.
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V-Cup: FCE “devastated” over controversial call, six minutes of added time in Montreal

For 95 minutes, the Montreal Impact and FC Edmonton staged a thrilling Amway Canadian Championship match, one that showed those cynical about cup competitions that there is indeed some magic to these midweek games.

Drew Fischer

Drew Fischer

But, in the end, no one will be talking about the 95-plus minutes. They’ll be talking what happened in the last minute of stoppage time. They’ll be talking about referee Drew Fischer. Because, in the end, he was the story.

The situation: The Impact led the Eddies 3-2 in the second leg of their semi-final matchup. But, the aggregate was at 4-4, with the Eddies ahead on the away-goal rule. Six minutes of time were added on, as the Eddies were certainly milking a few, ahem, injuries down the final 20 minutes.

A free kick was played into the Eddies’ box, it was deflected by Impact defender Heath Pearce, about a couple of feet away from FCE centre back Mallan Roberts. Fearing a handball call, Roberts had his hands behind his back. The ball hit Roberts on the shoulder/upper arm, and Fischer decided to point to the spot. Did Roberts try to play the ball with his arm? He had his hands behind his back. Could he had avoided a ball that was deflected by Pearce a couple of feet away.

Patrice Bernier buried the penalty kick. And, the cameras showed a full Eddies team accosting the refs after the game in a way that reminded you of that time after the 2007 Gold Cup, when the Canadians had a winning goal at the death waved off for a phantom offside call — and the Americans got through. Finally, we saw FCE coach Colin Miller and Montreal Impact owner Joey Saputo trading heated words. After the game, Miller joked that he wished Saputo a ”Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”

“The guys in the dressing room are broken-hearted,” Miller said over the phone after the match. “We knew we deserved better from the game. We are devastated. The players are devastated and the technical staff are devastated. I feel so bad for our fans and our owner.
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FCE hangs on for first league win in front of “fantastic” Indy supporters

Daryl Fordyce, in white, in action against the Indy Eleven.

Daryl Fordyce, in white, in action against the Indy Eleven.

FC Edmonton scored three goals Saturday night. Luckily for the Eddies, two of them went into the Indy Eleven’s goal.

The Eddies got their first league win of the year, and their first road win — in either NASL or Voyageurs Cup play — since 2012, beating the Eleven 2-1 in Indianapolis. But, counting both league and cup, the Eddies have now won last three of their last four matches. Daryl Fordyce and Kareem Moses scored in a three-minute span to give the Eddies a 2-0 lead, but Indy got one back before halftime, off a free kick that ricocheted in the box and was credited to as an FCE own goal, though it was hard to see who got the last touch.

Indy had three late glorious scoring chances, one off a strange indirect free-kick incident, in the last 15 minutes of the match, but couldn’t convert.

After Wednesday’s historic 2-1 win at home over the Montreal Impact in the first leg of their Amway Canadian Championship semifinal, FCE coach Colin Miller said he hoped the result would “kickstart” what has, so far, been a poor start to the NASL season for the Eddies. FCE began the weekend in last place, with just one point out of the team’s first four league games.

And the atmosphere in Indianapolis was electric, as the club sold out it its third straight home match. Even for the visitors, the atmosphere, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in the modern NASL before, was inspiring.

“It was absolutely fantastic,” said Miller. “They (Indy) deserve a great deal of credit. They have set a new standard for this league, just like the Seattle Sounders set a new standard for MLS when they came into the league.”
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The rabbit strikes: FC Edmonton stuns Montreal

FCE's Hanson Boakai pulls away from the Impact's Karl Ouimette. PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/FC EDMONTON

FCE’s Hanson Boakai pulls away from the Impact’s Karl Ouimette. PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/FC EDMONTON

It was spotted maybe an hour before the teams went onto the Clarke Stadium turf.

A rabbit. Maybe it was a hare. Semantics.

Fans saw it. Security people saw it. FC Edmonton’s harbinger of good luck. How important is the rabbit as the spirit animal for every FCE player? Each FC Edmonton jersey has the image of a running rabbit pressed on the back, below the collar.

?The supporters know; when a rabbit is seen at the stadium, good things happen for FC Edmonton. Maybe it was the mystical power of the rabbit that made Montreal Impact defender Karl Ouimette blow an 89th-minute defensive header on a long kick. Maybe it was the rabbit that gave FCE substitute Michael Nonni the foresight to jump on Ouimette’s turnover, round keeper Evan Bush, and score the goal that gave the NASL Eddies their first-ever Amway Canadian Championship win over MLS opposition.

The rabbit, er, FC Edmonton 2, Montreal Impact 1.

Yes, the Impact got the road goal — and still have everything to play for next week when the scene shifts to Stade Saputo. But Nonni’s goal gave FC Edmonton its most famous win in team history.

It started with a long goal kick from FCE keeper John Smits. The ball sailed all the way to the top of the Impact’s penalty area. Ouimette got underneath it, meaning to flick it back to Bush. And then it all went horribly wrong for Montreal.

“I thought that I’m going to take a gamble on the ball,” said Nonni. “He’d been flicking it back to the keeper all game long… when I got the first touch, I knew I was going to bury it.”
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