MONTREAL — The Montreal Impact are traveling to Ontario, but for the first time ever they won’t be playing Toronto FC. Instead, the Impact will start their Canadian Championship run against York 9 FC.
“It’s really weird, it’s going to be a first,” said Samuel Piette. “Flying over there and not going to a hotel downtown and play at BMO Field. It’s going to be special, but it’s a game that we need to take seriously and the biggest mistake that we can do is underestimate that team.”
The northern Toronto team, led by former TFC player Jimmy Brennan, is one of the founding members of the new Canadian Premier League. One of the advantages York can count on is the small size of their field.
York Lions Stadium, on the campus of York University, is the smallest in the CPL. For Piette, the Impact will want to channel their experience playing at Yankee Stadium for Wednesday’s game.
“For us here at Stade Saputo, the field I think is one of the biggest in the league,” Piette said. “So going to a small pitch like that, it’s going to be more of a battle. I think that York will have come out knife between teeth and they’ll want to make a good first impression.”
Objective: First Voyageurs Cup in five years
After bowing out against the Vancouver Whitecaps in the semifinals last year, the Impact want to take the Canadian Championship by storm. Remi Garde and his squad are hoping to lift their first Voyageurs Cup since 2014.
“We have in mind the deception of losing in Vancouver,” Garde said. “Despite the fact that we have one more round to play this year, we target to win the trophy. When you are playing for the Montreal Impact, you want to win the Voyageurs Cup.”
Garde, who won the Coupe de France with Lyon in 2012, recognizes how much a cup competition means to a club. With the history the Impact has in the Canadian Champions and the Concacaf Champions League, Garde wants to Impact to relive these moments.
“I think that this is also why everyone in this planet can love football,” Garde said. “I had the chance to win it in Lyon. You play in games that you remember your whole life because they are not league games where everything is set in order.”
Transfer Window: Bologna executives set to visit Montreal
The Impact are looking for reinforcements as the MLS secondary transfer window is now open. First up for the club is a visit from Bologna’s CEO Claudio Fenucci and sporting director Riccardo Bigon.
Both will have a meeting Wednesday in Montreal. Bologna team manager Marco Di Vaio and sporting coordinator for both Bologna and the Impact, Walter Sabatini, are set to join in via conference call.
“Obviously the Impact is working to try and see what is best and what we can do. And as you know we are in tight liaison with Bologna,” Garde said. “It’s a willingness from Joey Saputo and I find that it’s very good that we are able to rely on their expertise and what they put in place over there.”
Piette: Contract negotiations have begun
With a year left on his deal, Piette and the Impact have started negotiating on a contract extension. The club have submitted a first offer to Piette.
“After that, it’s for sure that the club is trying to pull as much of the sheets to their side of the bed,” Piette said. “It’s really rare that the first offer is accepted and there is a back-and-forth.”
Piette and his entourage have done their homework before getting to the negotiating table. Although he wants to be judged on his performance, the Impact’s No. 6 knows his worth on and off the pitch. Piette’s hometown heritage and French-speaking background makes him an important marketing asset at the Impact.
“When I look at other players in the league like Wil Trapp, Kellyn Acosta or even Perry Kitchen that, for me, have similar role [as] myself. I don’t see why my salary would be far from players like that,” he said.
According to the MLS Players Association, Trapp earns $593,746 annually with the Columbus Crew. Acosta’s contract with the Colorado Rapids is worth $665,000 per year. On his end, Kitchen earns $474,167 with the LA Galaxy. Piette’s contract with the Impact gives him $142,159 per year.