Montreal Impact go back tomorrow night to where it all began as an MLS club, 8 years, 6 months and 3 days ago!
Personally March 10, 2012 was a frustrating Saturday. My usual football diet was interrupted by the postponement of Manchester United’s home Premier League game with West Brom.
But at least there was the consolation (and pleasure) of watching Liverpool go down 0-1 to Sunderland for whom former Arsenal man Niklas Bendtner proved the match-winner.
Bolton Wanderers (now fourth tier) were still a Premier League club and Jurgen Klopp watched his title-chasing Borussia Dortmund toil to a scoreless draw at Augsburg.
But there was something else to look forward to. Montreal Impact that evening were making their MLS debut at 1800 hrs EST out west. I’d just acquired a season-ticket and was looking forward to the beginning of the ride.
Facing the Whitecaps was a kindly start, the Vancouver side had finished bottom of the pile in the previous season’s Supporters Shield and in Scotsman Martin Rennie, they had a new coach on board. But the task was to prove beyond the debutants, ‘Caps running out 2-0 to the good.
But what of the men who took those first tentative MLS steps for the Impact. We take a look at the 14 who saw action that evening...
Donovan Ricketts - Now 43, the Jamaican goalkeeper, a two-time MLS All-Star was beaten after only 4 mins by Sebastien Le Toux making his Whitecaps debut. He didn’t last the full season in Montreal, being traded to Portland Timbers for Troy Perkins. Ricketts played another 94 times in MLS, mainly for Portland, but also for Orlando City and LA Galaxy, before ending his career at Tulsa Roughnecks in USL.
Ricketts continued to play international football for Jamaica after leaving Montreal, and ended his career with 100 caps.
Jeb Brovsky - Now 31. The popular tough-tackling right-back was playing against his former club in facing the Whitecaps. He won two Canadian Championships while at Stade Saputo, before being traded to expansion club, NYCFC, for whom he became their second signing. To keep him match-fit for the beginning of their first season (2015), NYCFC packed Brovsky off to Stromgodset in the Norwegian Tippeligaen, an affiliate of sister club Manchester City.
Brovsky’s last club was Minnesota United for whom he never made an appearance. He is currently Elite Boys Director at Colorado Rapids Youth Soccer Club.
Tyson Wahl - Now 36. Like Ricketts, he didn’t see out the first season with Montreal, being traded to Colorado Rapids. Was too easily beaten in central defence by Vancouver’s Sebastien Le Toux, when the Frenchman opened the scoring after only four minutes.
Joined Columbus Crew in 2013 where he made 74 appearances - the most he made at any one club - before retiring from the sport in 2016, citing multiple concussions and risk to long-term health as the reasons.
Davy Arnaud - Now 40, Arnaud was the Impact’s first captain in MLS, and on the night had the Impact’s two most impressive scoring attempts when he saw his powerful header cleared off the line, before Joe Cannon tipped his dipping 30 yard volley over the bar.
Arnaud moved to DC United after two seasons in Montreal. After the same amount of time in the US capital, he joined DC’s coaching staff before moving to Houston Dynamo under Wilmer Cabrera in a similar capacity. He is now assistant coach at Austin FC under Josh Wolff and looking forward to his new club’s inaugural MLS season in 2021.
Matteo Ferrari - Now 40, the Algerian-born former Italian international, was very easily turned in the box by Camilo Sanvezzo as the Brazilian wriggled his way through to score Vancouver’s second goal on the night. In fact Camilo left Ferrari grounded on the seat of his pants. Still he went on to play almost 100 matches (all comps) for the Impact before retiring from the game in 2014.
Ferrari scored for both sides in a game against Real Salt Lake in 2013, redeeming himself with a 93rd min winner after giving RSL the lead within the first 7 mins.
Josh Gardner - Now 37, Josh has been out of mainstream soccer since being waived by Sporting Kansas in 2014. He remained with Montreal throughout the 2012 season, but only played in another 5 MLS games, before his rights were traded to Sporting Kansas in November 2012.
Justin Mapp - Now 35, popular winger who many would say retired too early, although injury played its part. The nine-times capped US-international was named Canadian Championship MVP in successive seasons, 2013 and 2014, both years won by Montreal Impact.
Mapp joined Sporting Kansas in 2015, becoming the first free agent signing in MLS history. He played six times in MLS for SKC, before deciding to retire in 2017.
Patrice Bernier - Now 40 and needs no introduction. Went on to captain the club and make 151 MLS appearances. Only Evan Bush has more. Bernier is tied 5th in MLS goals for the club and is 2nd in assists, behind only Ignacio Piatti. Was yellow-carded in the 28th minute for a foul on the evening Montreal opened against Vancouver.
Currently a member of the senior coaching staff at the club after taking up Academy roles post-retirement. Patrice finished his international career with 56 Canadian caps (2 goals).
Justin Braun - Now 33, Braun started up front for Montreal on the big night, but failed to make an impression on the game. He played only another 11 games for the club, mainly emerging from the bench as a replacement, before being traded to Real Salt Lake in July 2012. After a short stay in his home state, he joined Toronto FC in 2013, but was released at the season’s end. USL football followed with Sacramento Republic and Indy Eleven before he dropped out of mainstream soccer in 2018.
Felipe - Now 29. The Brazilian played over 100 times for the Impact (all comps) and was the first player from the club to earn MLS Player of the Month honours in 2012. He was also the first player from the Impact to receive a yellow card in MLS for a foul in the 18th minute of this game. Spent three years at the Red Bulls after Montreal traded him in 2105, after which he moved to Vancouver. Coincidentally made his Vancouver debut v Montreal Impact in March 2018 also at BC Place. Now with DC United.
Sanna Nyassi - Now 31. Gambian international winger whose last known soccer whereabouts was playing for Penang in the Malaysian Premier League (2109). Had a chance to get the Impact back into the game at 0-1 that night at BC Place, but after rolling Martin Bonjour, Nyassi blasted the ball high over Joe Cannon’s bar.
Had some good moments in Impact colours, including a sensational long-range winner at New England Revs which claimed MLS Goal of the Week honours. Was traded to Chicago Fire in 2014 for Dilly Duka. His stay at Chicago was brief before moving to San Jose (2015-16) and onto the Far East where he spent at least three years with Penang.
Michael Fucito - Now 34, Fucito became Impact’s first MLS used substitute when introduced for Justin Mapp on minute 64. Those 36 mins were the only ones he would ever play for Impact. Joined Portland Timbers about 6 weeks after the Vancouver game, and signed for San Jose Earthquakes (2013-15). His career total of MLS appearances amounted to 53. After finishing with San Jose, Fucito disappeared from mainstream soccer.
Andrew Wenger - Now 29, Wenger retired from the game in November 2018 after making over 50 MLS appearances for each of three clubs; Montreal, Philadelphia Union and Houston Dynamo. He scored Impact’s first-ever winning goal in MLS. After coming on as a sub for Bernardo Corradi, Wenger claimed the 81st minute winner over Toronto FC at the Big O. It was Montreal’s sixth MLS game.
On the night in Vancouver he replaced Justin Braun after 72 mins.
Miguel Montano - Now 29. The Impact’s first Colombian in MLS, midfielder Montano replaced Patrice Bernier in the 81st min at BC Place. He was loaned out to Deportivo Cali after only 3 appearances for Montreal, before permanently moving to Deportivo Cucuta, Uniautonoma and Quilmes of Argentina. Most of his recent career has been spent in the second-tier of Maltese football with Victoria Hotspurs.
And the coach....
Jesse Marsch - Now 46, Marsch was not that much older than some of his players who faced Vancouver Whitecaps. He’s had the most successful career of all the Impact squad from the evening in question, going on to win the Supporters Shield as coach of New York Red Bulls, and the domestic double in Austria with Red Bull Salzburg. Was also named MLS Coach of the Year in 2015.
The Impact and Marsch agreed to go their separate ways at the end of their first season together in MLS.