Montréal crowd could return Impact to winning ways

The last time the Impact started the Nutrilite Canadian Championship at home, they won the whole thing. That was 2008, the inaugural championship that preceded a memorable Montréal run to the quarter-final stage of CONCACAF Champions League.

The last time the Impact started the Nutrilite Canadian Championship at home, they won the whole thing. That was 2008, the inaugural championship that preceded a memorable Montréal run to the quarter-final stage of CONCACAF Champions League.



This 2011 season, the Impact are back at home to kick off the Nutrilite Canadian Championship. The championship features a new format, saying good bye to the three-team round robin play and hello to the four-team semi-final legs that begin Wednesday 27 April in Montréal (between the Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps FC) and Edmonton (between newcomer FC Edmonton and title holders Toronto FC).



While the Impact actually lost the first-ever Nutrilite Canadian Championship match at home (0:1 to Toronto FC), they followed up with back-to-back 2:0 victories over Vancouver Whitecaps FC at home and on the road. Those victories – six points in the standings – served as the foundation for the Impact’s first-place finish in 2008.



Remarkably, the Impact’s two victories in 2008 remain the team’s only wins in 12 all-time matches. In six matches against Vancouver, Montréal’s record is two wins, two draws and two losses.



Montréal has added some new faces since last year, most notably striker Ali Gerba who should finally make his championship debut on Wednesday night. Gerba (along with Dwayne De Rosario) is Canada’s national team’s active goal-scoring leader, having scored 15 goals in 29 international matches. With the Impact in 2010 (he joined the team after the championship), he scored nine goals in just 13 matches.



Gerba has yet to hit the back of the net in three league matches this season, so watch out for him on the score sheet against the Whitecaps.



Another notable new face is goalkeeper Bill Gaudette. He replaces Matt Jordan as the team’s number-one netminder, with Jordan being the one-time George Gross Memorial Trophy winner who retired after last season. Gaudette has spent the last three seasons with the Puerto Rico Islanders. To Canadian fans, he should be best remembered as the goalkeeper that knocked out Toronto FC with back-to-back clean sheets in 2009-10 CONCACAF Champions League.



On Saturday 23 April, Gaudette posted his first clean sheet with his new team, a 0:0 draw against Tampa Bay in the Impact’s 2011 season opener. The Impact had another excellent crowd for the start of their new home season, with 12,060 fans in attendance.



As for familiarity, coach Marc Dos Santos is now at the helm for his third Nutrilite Canadian Championship. The Impact also have four veterans that have been part of the championship since day one: captain Nevio Pizzolitto, midfielders Leonardo Di Lorenzo and David Testo, and defender Simon Gatti. António Ribeiro is the one other former champion in Impact colours, although he has not played in the championship since 2008.



The 2011 Nutrilite Canadian Championship runs 27 April to 25 May. The Impact’s two semi-final matches are 27 April at home (20.00 ET / 17.00 PT kick off) and 4 May on the road (23.00 ET / 20.00 PT kick off). Both matches will be broadcast live in high definition on Rogers Sportsnet. The winner of the Montréal-Vancouver series will advance to face the winner of the Edmonton-Toronto series.

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