If you watched the Montreal’s opening MLS bow vs. Vancouver on Saturday, you might have felt ok with the Fire having to open up their fourth stadium in three seasons this week against the Impact.
Expansion sides aren’t always the best built off the bat and the Impact showed signs of trouble early on against the Whitecaps when a misplay by Montreal center back Tyson Wahl allowed newly acquired Vancouver striker Sebastian Le Toux an easy stroll in on Rickett’s goal.
It wasn’t the best possible start for former Fire midfielder and Impact manager Jesse Marsch’s tenure with Montreal and Fire striker Dominic Oduro took away reason for opportunity for Saturday’s match at Olympic Stadium.
“What I saw was definitely a new team playing together,” said the 2011 Chicago Fire MVP. “I think they’re trying to find that X-factor in playing together. I don’t think they played well as a team personally, but save the first goal they were composed and I thought they came up against a Vancouver played very well.”
With Montreal recently announcing they’ve sold 46,500 tickets to their Saturday home opener, the team is looking to break the stadium’s soccer attendance record of 56,582 set ironically enough in a 1981 NASL playoff match between the Montreal Manic and Chicago Sting.
With the Fire returning all 11 starters that helped the team to the club’s second best regular season finish of 7-2-1 last season, the visiting Fire will be considered favorites on paper but Oduro admitted the crowd would play a factor.
“Saturday is their first-ever home MLS game and we know the crowd will have a lot of energy. It would be huge to go in and get an early goal to take them out of it and calm us down.”
Even if the Impact reach the stadium capacity of 60,000 fans, it still won’t equal the record attendance for a Fire away game which came on July 4, 2002 when the Fire fell 3-2 to Colorado in front of 61,213 at Invesco Field. Though more tickets were sold for that game, it’s likely the Impact supporters will provide a bit more noise, unless you include the post-game fireworks show from that fateful July day.
“They’ll be trying as much as possible to play the crowd up and to intimidate us and the officials,” Oduro concluded. “ That happens everywhere – when you go to Seattle you expect the crowd to be really loud. I believe we have a good team in terms of experience in chemistry to go in and get points out of it.”