1996 - The following season feels like the previous one

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Photos and article from the 1996 season

  • In mid-January, Bob Lenarduzzi, manager of the Canadian national team, calls upon five Impact players – Tom Kouzmanis, Kevin Holness, Lyndon Hooper, John Limniatis and Niall Thompson – for the Gold Cup tournament.

  • As for Nevio Pizzolitto and Jason deVos, they receive an invitation to the Olympic team camp in preparation for the Summer Games in Atlanta. In mid-February, the Impact announces the signing of midfielder Ian Carter.

  • By the end of March, we learn that Steve Tittschuh is heading to MLS, but Jason deVos is ready to step in. Solid midfielder Paul Dougherty also leaves the team to play indoor soccer with the Houston Hotshots. No pani in Montreal as the team feels Mauro Biello is ready to become a starter. The return of Paulinho is uncertain.

  • Just prior to the start of training camp in mid-April, the Impact signs two veteran Canadian players in defender Carl Fletcher and forward Eddy Berdusco. A few days later, the team gets Jamaican national team forward Onandi Lowe under contract.

  • Daniel Courtois is named goalkeeper coach for the Impact after dressing as the team’s third goalkeeper for the previous two seasons.

  • The Impact exacts revenges against the Ruckus with a 3-1 victory in the opening game of the season.

  • Success seems glues to the Impact as they finish the first half of the season with the best record ever in the young history of the league, suffering only three losses in its first 13 games player and winning its next seven, tying a league record for the longest winning streak in league history.

  • The team’s success is due in large part to the team’s iron-like defending, allowing just 12 goals in its first 20 games.

  • At the beginning of June, Jason deVos, Nevio Pizzolitto and Niall Thompson rejoin the Impact after failing to qualify for the Olympics with a 5-0 defeat in the return leg match versus Australia.

  • Almost 5,500 spectators take to the stands of the Patro de Charlesbourg field, a suburb of Quebec City, to take in the first ever Impact home game to be played outside of Montreal. On June 9, the fans celebrate a 2-0 victory over Rochester thanks to goals by Lloyd Barker and Grant Needham. “We definitely did not want to disappoint them,” said De Santis after the game.

  • In mid-July, the fusion the A-League and the USISL is announced in order to create a North American second division made up of some 20 teams. “It’s a question of survival, plain and simple,” said Milan Ilich, owner of the Vancouver 86ers.

  • Onandi Lowe gets a four-day tryout with Mexican first division side Chivas Guadalajara, but decides to stay with the impact where he “feels more comfortable.”

  • The crowds continue to grow at the Claude-Robillard sports complex. Over 5,000 spectators attend each of the three games in July, more than 6,000 take in the two first games in August and over 7,000 take in the second two in August.

  • Mauro Biello is shown the first and only red card of his career with the Impact – “of my life” he clarifies – during a melee that broke out during the August 14 game against the Vancouver 86ers, when the team earns its 7th consecutive win to tie the league record, beating Vancouver 1-0 on a goal by Eddy Berdusco.

  • Meanwhile, Mauro Biello is also being recognized as one of the key cogs for the Impact, scoring six goals (three game winners) in what equaled to 19 full games on the season. The goal leader in 1996 was Eddy Berdusco however, with eight goals.

  • The Impact’s solid play started with the clutch goalkeeping of Paolo Ceccarelli. After 18 games, he had a 0,67 goals against average.

  • The Impact finishes the regular season with some teeth-clenching performances, as its 4-3-7 record shows over its final stretch.

  • In spite of that, the Impact repeats as regular season champions with a comfortable 11-point lead over its closest rivals, the Colorado Foxes.

  • Forced to play without its leading scorer in Eddy Berdusco, who saw a red card during the team’s final game of the season in Rochester, the Impact starts the playoffs off on the wrong foot, falling 3-2 at home to the raging Rhinos on September 19 in the first game of a best of three series

  • Despite the odds, the Impact plays a perfect game, earning a 3-0 victory in Rochester, thanks to goals by Onandi Lowe, Eddy Berdusco and Mauro Biello in front of a hostile crowd of some 15,000 fans.

  • The decisive game at Claude-Robillard on Wednesday, September 25, with some 3,000 spectators in attendance, ends in a 2-1 loss to the raging Rhinos, with the visiting team scoring two controversial goals. Head coach Valerio Gazzola openly criticizes referee René Parra, but admits his team “played a very average game.”

  • For his part, goalkeeper Paolo Ceccarelli, who was the victim of some physical play, doesn’t shy away from his feelings. “The players should have been left to play the game with an impartial referee and not a puppet who probably took orders from some higher ups…”

  • For a second straight season, the Impact ends the year as regular season champs, but is eliminated by an expansion team in the playoffs.

  • Strangely though, John Limniatis says he’s less disappointed with this elimination than the one the previous year. “We had a better team in 1995, the best in our history, and we were eliminated by a weaker team than the Raging Rhinos.”

  • Three Impact players are called for national team duty for World Cup qualifying matches for France 1998: John Limniatis, Carl Fletcher and Lyndon Hooper.

  • On October 7, the Sounders repeat as A-League playoff champions on the strength of a 2-0 victory over Rochester, in Seattle.

  • Three other Impact players, Mauro Biello, Grant Needham and Marco Rizi, prepare for the indoor season, wearing the colours of the Buffalo Blizzard. A dozen of their teammates end up donning different jerseys of teams across the National Professional Soccer League. 

  • In mid-December, it is announced for the first time that the Impact is thinking about getting involved in the adventure of indoor soccer by purchasing a franchise in the NPSL and moving it Montreal.

Giuseppe-Saputo Trophy: Paolo Ceccarelli

Photos and article from the 1996 season

1996 Roster

Top Row (Left to right)      
Name # Pos Date of birth Seasons Min. played Previous club
Fletcher, Carl 7 D 26/12/71 1996-1998, 2001 6 821 Bristol City (UK)
Carter, Ian 3 M 20/09/67 1996 816 Foshan (Chine)
Doliscat, Rudy 2 D 16/11/67 1993-1996, 1998 5 178 Impact
Tangredi, Ricky 22 G 21/04/76 1996-1997, 2000 270 Hermès (LSEQ)
Ceccarelli, Paolo 1 G 13/10/73 1994-1998, 2000-2001 7 192 Impact
Senetchko, Jay 29 G 1974 1996 0  
Needham, Grant 9 A/F 14/07/70 1993-1998 5 814 Impact
Bosch, Kurt 19 M 19/03/76 1996 0 Canada U-20
Holness, Kevin 13 M 25/09/71 1994-1997 5 001 Impact
             
Middle Row (Left to right)      
Name # Pos Date of birth Seasons            Min. played Previous club
Moretto, Mike Equipment manager      
Barker, Lloyd 11 A/D 12/12/70 1993-1997, 2001-2004 13 707 Harbour View (JAM)
Hooper, Lyndon 6 M 30/05/66 1995-1998 6 378 Birmingham (UK)
Courtois, Daniel Goalkeepers coach      
Gazzola, Valerio Head coach      
Millien, Francis Assistant Coach      
Badescu, Marcel 18 M   1996 157  
deVos, Jason 5 D 02/01/74 1993, 1994, 1996 4 736 Charlton Athletic (UK)
Pizzolitto, Nevio 16 D 26/08/76 1994-1998, 2000-2011 23 030 Impact
             
Bottom Row (Left to right)      
Name # Pos Date of birth Seasons            Min. played Previous club
Giannakakis, Tina Head Physiotherapist      
Berdusco, Eddy 21 A/F 08/09/69 1996-1997 2 037 Foshan (Chine)
Giummarra, William 15 A/F 26/08/71 1996 256 University of Alabama
De Santis, Nick 4 M 11/09/67 1993-1998, 2000-2003 18 303 Impact
Saputo, Joey President        
Limniatis, John 8 D 24/06/67 1993-1998, 2000-2001 13 976 Impact
Diotte, Patrick 12 D 13/11/67 1993-1998, 2000-2001 16 031 Impact
Biello, Mauro 21 A/F 08/08/72 1993-1998, 2000-2009 25 288 FC Supra

1996 Standings

GP W L WS GF GA GD Pts
Montreal Impact 27 17 6 4 40 18 22 55
Colorado Foxes 27 14 11 2 55 33 22 44
Seattle Sounders 27 12 11 4 35 25 10 40
Rochester Rhinos 27 11 13 3 44 42 2 36
Vancouver 86ers 27 10 14 3 38 38 0 33
New York Fever 27 6 18 3 30 40 -10 21
Atlanta Ruckus 27 3 19 0 14 60 -46 9

3 points for a regulation win
1 point for a shootout win
0 point for a shootout loss
0 point for a regulation loss

Playoffs

SEMI-FINALS

Rochester eliminated Montreal 3-2, 0-3, 2-1
Seattle eliminated the Colorado 1-0, 0-2, 3-0 

FINAL

Seattle won against Rochester 2-0

Toronto and Hershey (PA) were added after the end of the season and before the merger with the USISL