Mexican Soccer

Montreal Impact topples Santos Laguna in front of record crowd

Eduardo Sebrango (AP) 

On a night where a record crowd came out to support soccer in Montreal, the USL-1 Montreal Impact sent the more then 55,000 fans in attendance for their CONCACAF Champions League match vs. Santos Laguna happy.

Forward Eduardo Sebrango scored two goals to help lead the Impact to a 2-0 first-leg victory over Santos Laguna in their Champions League quarterfinal opener at Olympic Stadium in Montreal.

The crowd in attendance, 55,571 to be exact, set a new mark for an Impact match, as well as a record for most fans to ever attend a CONCACAF Champions League match.

Here are some highlights from the match

What did you think of the performance? What impressed you more, the way Montreal played or the turnout for the match? Think MLS needs to reconsider and ask Montreal back to the MLS expansion table?

Share your thoughts below.

  • Richard

    They care more about (relatively big-time) soccer in Canada than in the US. What I don’t get is why everyone seems to want to make MLS to be _the_ top soccer league in N.A. I know there is only one top-flight soccer league in every other country, but until MLS loosens its salary cap (which ensures that virtually every MLS team will be some sort of mediocre), I’m all for a second league that can send competitive teams to the Champions League. Competition’s good, and I certanly enjoyed it when the AL and NL were completely separate leagues or when the AFL and NFL both existed.


  • Scott A

    @JF Prieur
    Good luck keeping the Impact relevant to top-flight soccer after a couple decades as a non-profit

    You seriously think that major players will pay $40 million to enter USL and spurn MLS???
    MLS is so clearly set up for more long-term success than USL I don’t know how to respond


  • G-MAN

    Hold On. The Olympic stadium is a great venue. I as there in 76 when 72,000 packed it to see the Olympic final. I was there in 83, when 58,000 thousand saw the NASL Manic beat the Sting.

    And I was there when 55,500 saw a Mexican team go down in flames to the USL Impact with seven –SEVEN locals in the stating 11.

    Montreal is a soccer town and we don’t need the MLS to prove that.


  • Sandroid in Mtl

    A few facts and observations about the turnout at the Big O – I was there.

    Tickets ranged from $10 to $50. About 50 % of all seats were $10. Balcony sections in the stadium are not very popular but account for about 40 % of stadium capacity. You couldn’t price them much higher. According to Joey Saputo, this brings the average ticket price to $15-$16 – times 55,571. Add food, drinks, souvenirs… It sums up to be a pretty lucrative game.

    Typical week night games do not draw youth soccer clubs. I saw hard core fans, a lot soccer moms and dads with their teens, scattered Mexican fans, but no noticeable groups. In fact, most Latin Americans I saw in the crowd were Impact fans. Many people were attending their first Impact game. Most amazingly, marketing wasn’t that effective as hockey draws most media attention in winter time. Montreal is arguably the Mecca of Hockey, yet there are more registered amateur soccer players than hockey players in the Province of Quebec. The Impact management was clever enough to tap in that latent market and, quite frankly, was surprised by its own success.

    55,571 is an all time CONCACAF Champion League record. The 2007 U20 World Cup games at the Big O drew crowds of 55,800 and 46,252 (third-highest attendance in history for a quarter-final). The Olympic Stadium attendance record for a pro soccer game is 58,542 – Montreal Manic vs. Chicago Sting in the NASL 1/2 finals on Sept. 2, 1981.

    As for Saputo stadium, its capacity is 13034. Average attendance at Impact games was 12,696 in 2008 regular season (1st in USL-1), 10,453 in the 4 previous Champion League games (2nd in CONCACAF CL 2008). Not bad considering 2 games were played under the rain at below 45 F temperatures.

    Montreal MLS Bid was 45 M$ CAN, including cost of stadium expansion to 20,000 seats, estimated at 15 M$ CAN. Leaving about 25 M$ US for expansion fees.

    I hope this answers most questions in this tread.


    FYI. The Impact coach announced in an interview this morning that the Impact will play the Dynamo in Houston this Saturday in preparation for their respective second leg games in Mexico.


  • Sandroid in Mtl

    Northzax, I agree with you. Saputo & Gillett realized that paying 40 M$ US makes no economic sense, unless they want to alienate their fan base with corporate-level pricing. But get your facts straight.

    Season tickets at Saputo stadium start at $1525, then $1225, $790, $490. All these are already sold out. At $390, it is a section for which season ticket are still available. Note that this pricing is to attend USL games. MLS pricing would probably be a little more expensive.

    I had an interesting chat with the Impact director of sales last night before the game. The Impact pricing strategy is to make a game affordable for a family outing. That’s why they sell nearly half the stadium at a low fare. This is not much different from baseball game bleachers and ballpark access tickets.

    Empty seats are not just season ticket holder not showing up nor free handouts. It is lower priced tickets holders that often don’t show up when the weather is uncertain – they choose to lose $10 or $20 rather than spending 2 hours under the rain. This is an issue the Impact recognizes. Tickets are NOT given out to fill the stands.

    At the Big O, there were only 300 tickets at $50 because these were VIP tickets giving access to a room for a pregame cocktail that had a capacity limit. They would have easily sold thousands had they could. Saputo stadium offers more corporate packages that cost much more than $50 per seat. This is a trade off for moving the game to a temporary venue. Also, the first 10,000 tickets for the CL game were sold in less than 2 days – mostly tickets at $50, $35 and $30.

    I fail to understand why some people put so much effort to lessen the Impact success with false information. So what if Joey Saputo is playing hard ball with the MLS. Why shouldn’t he? He has good cards in his hands to negotiate and the economic environment seems to strengthen his position every day. This is a big boy’s game!


  • carnifex2005

    Well Sandroid, I don’t want to put it up to petty jealousy but it really does sound that way in most cases. Hell, in Vancouver the season tickets are equivalent to MLS prices but our stadium only seats 6000.I’m pretty sure the prices for BC Place will be quite a bit more when the Caps move there in 2011 (MLS or no MLS).

    Even our rich owner was a bit taken aback at the business case for a $40 million dollar franchise fee, especially since you still have to give up a portion of your ticket sales to MLS on top of that.
    Most people can’t get it through their heads that Impact (and to a lesser degree the Whitecaps) make plenty enough money to stay in USL and still make a tidy profit.


  • Ddub

    the real question is can they get 55K when they play Columbus Crew? And will they get 55K in three weeks? All soccer isn’t created equal. Chivas can put 80K in the Rose Bowl if they play the Galaxy. That doesn’t mean the Galaxy can draw 80K alone. Regardless another point is seriously why doesn’t Canada start their own league instead of taking spots in ours. If MLS wants to be Canada fine but then just go there and leave here.


  • carnifex2005

    55 k for the Columbus Crew if it was the MLS Championship or even Semi-final. Probably. If Chivas can get 80k for the Galaxy (and that is a laughable statement) they would have done so already. Face it, in 95% of MLS markets there wouldn’t have been that many fans for the home team if the tickets were given away for free.


  • Fredz

    Impact is not making tidy profit, it’s a NON-PROFIT organization. Everybody is well paid, the players got more cash to stay here and the rest of the revenue (about 80%-90%) is invested in soccer associations, which in return buy Impact tickets. These tickets are sold, not given, not free. Not having an ass on these seats is not a problem.

    If Impact win against Santos Laguna, Montreal will beat the Concacaf crowd record again in three weeks!!!

    The CCL is an event that worth more than giving $40m to the MLS.
    With only 3 teams in Canada for one Concacaf spot, it’s probably the best place in americas to be (for a player who likes to play in international soccer matches).
    Too bad for TFC and the MLS salary cap, Vancouver and Montreal will share that Concacaf spot for several years…
    That’s why we kept our best players from going to MLS.

    why doesn’t Canada start their own league?
    For the same reasons that NHL moved Winnipeg’s and Quebec’s team to Phoenix and Colorado.
    GOD !!! Why USA have problems having Canadian teams? Why are you accepting international players in your MLS teams if you are so patriotic ??? Why partnership is such a problem across the border?

    Because USA are control freaks. They’re not controlling the Concacaf so they don’t like it.


  • Luc

    The game was great… for Impact fans. I think that one on one, the Santos Laguna players were better, but the Impact seemed better organized as a team. Team play wins games.

    I sincerely hope that Montreal will one day be part of the MLS. It would simply be a win-win situation. MLS and Montreal can live without each other, but would be better off together…


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