Home MLS Montreal Impact Hometown hero Bernier’s three assists headline fairytale reopening of Stade Saputo

Hometown hero Bernier’s three assists headline fairytale reopening of Stade Saputo

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As anyone who has had to move temporarily into rented quarters while their principal residence was being renovated can attest, there’s no place like home, even if there is still some cosmetic work left to be done.

There may not be toilet paper in all the stalls, some 900 seats in the east stands still have to be installed and the mesh has yet to be put up behind the goals, but 17,112 fans came out for a housewarming party that was a success by all accounts and one that resulted in Brossard native, Patrice Bernier, being named player of the game with three assists.

After a three-week layoff Impact faithful were treated to a solid 90-minute effort by the Impact who came out on top of a 4-1 decision, soundly drubbing The Seattle Sounders, who came into the match in third place on the Western Conference table, with a 7-3-3 record so far this season.

“I think that’s the way you open a new stadium. You show your fans that you’re excited to be in a new home and that you’re ready to go,” said Impact coach Jesse Marsch, after the game. “We had lot of good performances tonight and to get four goals against a good team in a win like that, I think is a very good performance for us.”

Montreal midfielder Felipe, a dynamo throughout the game, got the ball rolling in the opening half, scoring the first goal at the rejuvenated Saputo Stadium 18 minutes after the opening whistle. Much of the heavy lifting on the marker was done by Bernier. The locally-born midfielder stepped around a Sounder opponent and got the ball to the Brazilian in the centre of the penalty area. It was then a simple matter to roll it past keeper Bryan Meredith and into the back of the net.

A second goal accrued to the home side early in the second half. At the 51-minute mark Justin Mapp found the twine on the left hand side to double the Montreal lead, with the pass once again coming from the boot of Bernier.

“When we got the one-goal lead it felt like we were going to need two because at the end of the first half Seattle was pushing and they have a lot of talented players,” Marsch said.”We did feel that the second one was going to be important and it proved to be. Then we got the third goal almost right away.”

Stade Saputo, before the gates opened. PHOTO: MIKE WYMAN

Seattle defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado was sent off in the 56th minute, leaving his side a man short for the balance of the match.

Montreal does not have a positive record when playing a man up but, rather than giving up a goal, as has been the habit in such circumstances, the Impact potted its third of the night a mere two minutes later courtesy of Andrew Wenger. The rookie forward was served the ball by Bernier, who earned his third point of the night and the first standing ovation at Saputo Stadium 2.0 when he subbed out in the 77th and ceded his place to striker Bernardo Corradi.

Bernier came in for some words of praise from his gaffer after his three-point night.

“I thought Patrice was very good. He balanced us well, he defended well. He did a good job of initiating the attack,” Marsch opined. “We knew that was going to be important. They did a pretty good job of applying initial pressure with their front four but once we were able to link up with Patrice and find the next attacking player that’s when we had space and that’s when we were successful. Patrice was a big part of that tonight and obviously he set up a lot of attacking plays so I’m happy for him.”

Bernier preferred to speak of team achievements rather than his three helpers on the night, saying: “We scored four goals, the most we’ve got this year I think. We couldn’t ask for a better outcome than a win like this one at home and neither could the fans.

“It’s the kind of game soccer players want to play, from the time they’re very little, in a stadium like this one and in front of a crowd that is as supportive as this one.” he continued. “It’s something I’d like to experience as often as possible because I’ve got more years behind me than ahead of me.”

Seattle scored their only marker in the 61st minute, an Eddie Johnson effort made possible by a Fredy Montero through ball but it did nothing to clip the wings of the high-flying Impact.

Lamar Neagle re-established a three-goal lead with his right-footed drive in the 87th minute finding the bottom right hand side of the Seattle net.

MLS Commissioner, Don Garber, was on hand for the opening and shared his feelings on the renovated stadium at half time.

“What a great historic night for Major League Soccer. I’m very, very, very impressed with the new stadium.” he enthused. “I’d seen the plans when we came together with the Saputo family, we knew about the renovation, but I never thought it would be like this. It’s really spectacular. The roof looks perfect. The stands on the opposite end look completely different than when they were originally configured.”

MLS Commissioner Don Garber addresses the media in Montreal. PHOTO: MIKE WYMAN

Asked how it compared to other MLS facilities, Garber was just as effusive.

“I think it’s just like many of our stadiums of this size. They got a lot for their money. It looks to me like a lot more expensive stadium than it is and that’s a credit to what the community, the municipality and the Saputo family has been able to do. It looks brand new to me.”

Montreal hosts the Houston Dynamo next Saturday.

THROW-INS – Five members of the Impact, Miguel Montano, Lamar Neagle, Sanna Nyassi, Tyson Wahl and Josh Gardner have all spent time with the MLS Seattle Sounders while Davy Arnaud and goalkeeper coach, Preston Burpo, performed for USL editions of the team. Seattle keeper Andrew Weber wore Impact colours during its USL period, suiting up in Montreal for three seasons.

• Forward Fredy Montero became the first Sounder to play in 100 MLS games for the side while defender Patrick Ianni hits the century mark as far as MLS appearances the next time he steps onto the pitch. Impact captain Davy Arnaud made his 225th MLS start this evening.

• The undefeated Montreal impact U-21 squad (3-0-3) plays its next game on the road against Serbian White Eagles on June 22 while the Reserve team (2-2-1) takes to the pitch against D.C. United in Washington on July 1.


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