SBD/March 19, 2012/Franchises

MLS Impact Draws Record Crowd At Olympic Stadium For Home Opener

Impact drew 58,912 for franchise's regular-season home opener on Saturday

The expansion MLS Impact drew a crowd of 58,912 for the franchise's regular-season home opener on Saturday at Olympic Stadium, marking the "largest crowd to see a pro soccer game at the stadium," according to Randy Phillips of the Montreal GAZETTE. The game against the Fire edged the previous mark of 58,642, which was set by the NASL Manic in a playoff game in '81 (Montreal GAZETTE, 3/18). In Montreal, Jack Todd wrote the record crowd "sang, chanted, screamed and roared" throughout the game. After a "long, exhausting effort," Impact President Joey Saputo has "finally brought Major League Soccer to Montreal." Todd wrote if Saturday’s match is "any indication, we should all be sending him thank-you notes." Todd: "It’s not the Premiership, or Serie A, or La Liga. But it’s closer than you think -- and MLS is getting better every year" (Montreal GAZETTE, 3/18). In Ottawa, Richard Starnes wrote the fans were the "loudest and quite probably the most uplifting 12th man any Canadian team has ever had -- be it soccer or any other game." MLS Commissioner Don Garber said during a halftime interview that he "could not say enough about the Montreal fans." Pointing to the crowd behind the goal, Garber said, "What's sensational to me are those people. What a wonderful sight. When they move next door (to the enlarged Saputo Stadium), they will blow the roof off" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 3/18). MLSSOCCER.com's Andrew Wiebe wrote the fans "made the occasion unforgettable, yet another golden moment for professional soccer in Canada during a period of many." Impact MF Davy Arnaud said, "It was unbelievable. They say there is going to be 50,000 or 60,000, but until you’re out there, you’re in it and you can’t hear each other, you don’t realize how special it was" (MLSSOCCER.com, 3/18). The Montreal GAZETTE's Todd wrote under the header, "Impact Gives Fans Reason To Love Soccer" (Montreal GAZETTE, 3/18).

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