Thursday, February 12, 2015

Buildup to MLS Seems to Outpace Being in MLS

The owner of the Montreal Impact, Joey Saputo, let his true emotions be heard in a recent interview about his team's lack of local support.

Saputo is worried that the Impact is not impacting the city of Montreal.  He spoke of the lack of relevance the team seems to have.

The lack of relevance is a tough pill to swallow for a cultural city of significance and one with only one other major sport competing against U.S. competition (the Canadiens in hockey).

Just three years into playing North America's Division 1 soccer, Montreal is feeling the effects of being ignored by fans and media.  After selling out Olympic Stadium and galvanizing the city with futbol fever, normalization has settled in and it feels stale.

Montreal isn't the first MLS city to feel this way and shouldn't feel alone.  Several other MLS clubs can relate, including big metropolis cities like Chicago and Dallas as well as the smaller Columbus-also possessing only an NHL pro outfit besides its Crew.

Saputo is disappointed and bewildered by the trend his team has taken and its place of importance for the city.

What is so interesting to me about Saputo's comments is how direct and accurate he appears to be in analyzing the situation.

Could it be that the buildup to achieving MLS stature is bigger than actually being in MLS?

Joey Saputo
In a way, Saputo explains the phenomenon of MLS:  It is the passion, excitement and longing for the arrival only to find a much harsher truth when it actually becomes a reality.

When it was the minor leagues, it seemed much rosier for the Impact.  The lead up to MLS is wonderful.  It's been that way with a few clubs.  The grass-roots campaigning to become a member of North America's elite is a feel-good experience for all.

Saputo is not giving up on his Impact or MLS, nor should he.  A place like Montreal with its distinct world history and traditions should be able to fit soccer and the Impact into its schedule.  It may be that it takes a little more than the average coaxing.


  1. This is in one sense intriguing ... Joey Saputo has done more to cultivate an "Italian Identity" with this team. He has signed players from Italy and the colors of the team reflect Inter Milan. Now Montreal does have a strong Italian community, but the "Chivas USA" concept has never worked very well.

    Having been to Montreal, I have met many soccer players who are of Algerian, African, French Canadian and people from France. There are also talented players in Ottawa. I find it odd that he is complaining, because he has not really recruited or created an INCLUSIVE atmosphere for all the demographics that live in Montreal. He has alienated that. This is his problem and I am calling it out. He should be more inclusive, more involved in Montreal grassroots soccer and have a team that REFLECTS the ENTIRE city of Montreal.