Canada has had its share of professional soccer leagues, and in the province of Quebec, the sport remains one of the region's main pastimes. For years the Montreal Impact was one of the most popular football clubs in the country and won many titles in the NPSL, A-League and United Soccer Leagues.
Building off of this strong following in Montreal, the Impact soon set its sights on MLS. The Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Toronto FC were both admitted to the MLS as the first two Canadian franchises in league history, and in 2012, the Impact became the third. The team hired new manager Jesse Marsch, re-tooled their roster and began significant renovations on Stade Saputo, which will soon become the Impact's primary facility.
The Impact played their first game on March 10, 2012, against their fellow Canadian franchise, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Although the Impact fell 2-0 to their Western Canadian rivals, the massive crowd that attended the game showed just how excited the Montreal faithful are about the arrival of professional soccer. While the Impact are slated to play their first match at Stade Saputo in June 2012, they will continue to give the sport their all at Montreal's Olympic Stadium in the meantime and will use this facility for larger matches and playoff games.
With the incredible growth in popularity of soccer in Canada, the Impact are privileged to have such a large venue as a backup facility. In fact, during a May 2012 match against the Los Angeles Galaxy, 60,860 spectators filled the old Olympic Stadium to set the record for the largest audience to ever attend a professional soccer match in Canadian history.
As only the third MLS team in Canada, the Montreal Impact have rode a groundswell of popular support and already have a staunch fan base in place. This has proven to be a winning formula for the MLS, which has been able to pull franchises from more obscure leagues and help them hit the ground running. While none of the MLS teams have yet to reach an MLS Cup, when they do, the atmosphere for the event is sure to be electric.