" 24-04-2013, NOUS ON L'A PRIS AU SERIEUX "
" Voyageurs Cup Before NBC "
" CC: Pas D'Impact Depuis 2008 "
During the 2-0 Montreal Impact victory over the Chicago Fire, each banner shown was accompanied by a silence in sign of protest to the club's recent result in the 2013 Amway Canadian Championship. The 2-0 loss to Toronto FC still has a sour taste among many fans and observers around the club.
The Delicate Balance between MLS Playoffs and CCL
When Marco Schällibaum was appointed head coach of the Montreal Impact, the modus operandi for the club was to win and to win now. That was obviously a clear intention to make the MLS playoffs while staying within the boundaries of the club's vision. That vision also included a deeper integration of the Academy graduates which is where the Canadian Championship comes in to play.
Giving MLS minutes to younger inexperienced players is always a risk for any club. In the Impact's context, the investment on older experienced players is obvious and is a big part of the club's early success in 2013. Injuries to Alessandro Nesta and Matteo Ferrari opened up opportunities to Karl W. Ouimette and Wandrille Lefevre to play MLS minutes with Ouimette starting 3 MLS games.
In the delicate balance between winning and developing the younger players, the Montreal Impact selected the Canadian Championship as the competition for the young, the inexperienced and the bench players.
But that is one side of the story as the Montreal Impact did say early in the season that it takes the Amway CC seriously. The message did change as the 1st leg of the semi-final vs Toronto FC was getting closer. Its all about opportunity cost when the club is stretched in resources (players depth chart) and the scheduling becomes suffocating ( Amway games sandwiched between MLS games).
Silent Protests, Ultras and Soccer Culture
``It Feels Like 2008`` would be a good motto to use if/when the Montreal Impact goes on a CCL run. On the other hand, the banners displayed at Stade Saputo were a symbol of the Ultras Montreal's only way to pass a message to the club , to the media and to the rest of the league.
The relationship between the Ultras and the club has had its up and down with a clash during the Impact's last year in the NASL. Still, the Ultras Montreal group continues to express itself in the manner that supporters group regularly do outside North America (some within also).
Some astonishment and disdain ,from some observers, around the banners is more astonishing than the messages themselves. If we praise Montreal being an European and International city, the soccer culture among fans is also deeply rooted through all the different communities.
Though, the soccer culture of Montreal is not fully geared towards MLS but the Ultras group is doing its part since 2002. One cannot demand from the Ultras to fully and blindly support its club while not accepting the full identity of a supporters group, a kop, a tifosi.
In a Montreal Canadiens and Montreal Alouettes town, where the fan culture has become closer to consumerism, the Ultras Montreal is creating something unique. The responsibility of a supporters group is not to only support its team but to also express itself. (free of violence, bigotry etc..)
The prioritization of MLS competition over the Amway CC is obvious and understandable for the Montreal Impact. The fans reaction might have been more of a result of mixed expectations between the ambitions of the club and the fanaticism of supporters.
But at the end, the soccer culture (la culture foot) will get enriched from all these experiences. That same soccer culture gets build with clubs and fans, as both both entities evolve into building a history and a tradition.
Enjoy The Silence