A year like no other is slowly coming to its end
For all of us, 2020 was a year like no other.
In a year ruled by a global pandemic, the season brought with it more challenges than we dared imagine. Many of us were forced to adapt, adjust, and rethink how we do things.
For us at the Montreal Impact, the repercussions were important; the team was forced to play its home games out of the country, spending weeks at a time away from home, away from their families. Our sports suffered a stoppage from March to July as the world fought to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
But despite the many setbacks, the Impact was able to bounce back and hold strong, qualifying to the MLS Cup playoffs for the first time since 2016 and coming close to qualifying to the semifinals of the Concacaf Champions League, losing out on away goals to CD Olimpia, nine months after the first leg was played in Montreal, back in March.
Here are some of the best Impact moments in a very different 2020.
Victor Wanyama joins the squad
The Impact made one of the biggest splashes of the preseason when it announced the signing of midfielder Victor Wanyama from Tottenham Hotspur FC.
A man who was used to being a starter in the Premier League, scoring stunners against teams like Liverpool, was joining the Impact under head coach Thierry Henry.
His impact on the pitch was immediate. The Kenyan international established himself as a starter quickly, impressing with his ability to recover the ball and swiftly move play forward.
Impact eliminates Saprissa in Henry’s first home game
2020’s first home game will definitely be one to remember.
On a frigid February night, the Impact hosted Deportivo Saprissa in the second leg of the Concacaf Champions League round of 16, after drawing 2-2 just a week before in Costa Rica.
The stakes were high heading into the second leg at Olympic Stadium, the Impact holding a slight advantage with its two away goals. And to top it all off, it was head coach Thierry Henry’s first ever home game in Montreal.
Montreal was able to hold to a scoreless draw, confirming its berth into the quarterfinals against CD Olimpia.
Creation of U23 team
The Impact Academy took another step in the right direction, announcing the creation of a U23 team led by former Impact player and head coach Jason Di Tullio.
📰 L’Impact restructure son @academieimpact en se dotant notamment d’une équipe U23 >>> https://t.co/67uoOEDTac— Impact de Montréal (@impactmontreal) September 4, 2020
📰 The Impact changes the sporting structure of its Academy, creating a reserve team composed by U23 players >>> https://t.co/YVy6xlSyQu#IMFC pic.twitter.com/Ox3Xny6r9P
The team gives a chance for younger players who didn’t sign a contract with the first team at the U19 level to further develop and continue improving for many more years, in front of stiffer competition.
Samuel Piette scores first MLS goal
It was a moment we’d been all hoping for since the young Canadian international joined the Impact in 2017. Samuel Piette wasn’t signed to be a goalscorer by any means. But his first MLS goal was as special as it gets.
He had been getting close before scoring as well, undertaking a more offensive role under his new head coach. We already can’t wait for the second one!
Decision Day drama
The Impact’s playoff qualification truly came down to the wire this year. Facing D.C. United on Decision Day, who had an opportunity to jump past the Impact in the standings with a win, Thierry Henry’s men needed at least a draw to hope to qualify, although a win would see them through officially.
But at half-time, things weren’t looking good for the Impact. Down 2-1 with 45 minutes to go, their season was on the line. But then Wanyama did this.
Now tied at two goals apiece, the Impact’s playoff hopes drew a new breath. And then, in the 88th minute, who else but the season MVP, Romell Quioto, to score the winning goal officialize the club’s qualification.