For most professional sports clubs getting to the league semi-finals would have been seen as having a successful season. You are one of the four last standing clubs. Look how excited we were about the Montreal Canadiens this spring when they got to the semis. The expectations for the defending champion Montreal Impact were different; it seems like it was make it to the finals or the season would be seen as a failure. That is a lot of pressure for a team to carry throughout an entire season. They came into their final game on a 6 game winning streak and because they lost many were disappointed.
This was despite the fact that up until the end of the month of August it seemed like the team was not even going to get into the playoffs and then they went on a winning streak that only ended with a hard luck 2-0 loss in the second game of their two game aggregate goal series (which they lost 2-1) in Cary, North Carolina.
The loss to the Carolina RailHawks was a bitter pill to swallow for the team as they felt a little cheated due to some dubious refereeing decisions. Montreal went into the second game with a slim one goal lead courtesy of a 1-0 win in the first game played here in Montreal. It was a tight game with Montreal having some scoring chances in the 1st half, but not able to increase their lead. In the latter part of the game the RailHawks finally broke through the Montreal defense and scored 2 goals in 18 minutes. Many on the Impact bench thought both goals were offside, but the linesman's flag stayed down. Their fury grew when a goal scored by substitute Marco Terminesi was called back due to an offside flag.
Once they got over their anger I'm sure the players on the team, or most of them anyways, would have to admit that their destiny was in their own hands. Earlier in the game Patrick Leduc had hit the post twice and in the game in Montreal they had plenty of chances to score more than the one goal they did. The team did not take advantage of all their offensive chances and ended up paying for it in the end.
No matter that they did not make it back to the finals to defend their title I still see this as a successful season for the Impact. They overcame adversity and a horrible start. Coach Marc Dos Santos really came to know the character of certain players on his team and was able to weed out the problem makers. He and technical director Nick De Santis brought in players like Antonio Ribiero, Anthony Le Gall and league all-star, Ali Gerba very late in the season. They gelled fairly quickly with their teammates and were important members of the team for the rest of the season plus the playoffs.
Looking towards the future, the Impact will play in the USSF- Division 2 for one more season then they will make the jump to the MSL for the 2012 season. The team is building for the future and is looking for players that will be able to make that jump with them. Next season, therefore, is shaping up to be a crucial one for the team and players who want to be with the Impact when they make the move to the MSL.