1997 - Early exit

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Photos from the 1997 season

  • The curtain raised on the Impact’s 5th season happened in Charleston, on May 14: The Battery is also the opponent for the Impact’s home opener on May 25.

  • The league sees a true metamorphosis following its unification with the USISL (United Systems of Independent Soccer Leagues), with 24 clubs divided into two conferences and four divisions.

  • The Impact is placed in the Northeast division in the Eastern Conference, joining the Rochester Rhinos (an expansion side) and the Toronto Lynx among others.

  • 1997 promises to be a year of abundance for soccer, where the outdoor season is accompanied by the Impact’s first indoor season and a number of players are called to the national team for CONCACAF qualifying matches for the 1998 World Cup in France.

  • John Limniatis, Lyndon Hooper and Carl Fletcher are the three Impact players chosen by Bob Lenarduzzi, head coach of the Canadian national team, to play Mexico at Azteca Stadium on March 2, in front of over 100,000 spectators. Canada suffers a tough loss, falling 4-0.

  • At the end of the month, the Impact announces that John Limniatis has been signed for three years, serving as the general of the Impact’s defence until 2000.

  • At the beginning of April, president Joey Saputo confirms that “the probability is good” that the Impact plays its debut indoor season at the Molson Centre, starting in October.

  • Monday, April 14, preseason camp opens for the Impact with a number of notable players missing, including Nick De Santis and Lloyd Barker, as their indoor clubs were still playing playoff games in the NPSL.

  • At the team’s official introduction at the Complexe Desjardins, head coach Valerio Gazzola promises “an explosive offence.” Among the new arrivals, Bill Sedgewick, who will end up making life tough for the Impact in a Rhinos uniform in the future.

  • In mid-June, a brace by Lloyd Barker in a 3-0 win over the Connecticut Wolves lifts the Impact into first place in the Northeast division.

  • On July 6, the Impact crushes the Rochester Raging Rhinos by a 6-1 score, with six different goal scorers for the winning side.

  • Three weeks later, the Impact beat the Long Island Rough Riders 4-3, thanks to a brace by forward Darren Tilley, acquired the night before from the Toronto Lynx in exchange for Kevin Holness.

  • The Impact struggle towards the end of the month of July and into August, losing four out of six games, including two 1-0 shutouts to Long Island.

  • Thursday, August 14, Joey Saputo announces that the Impact will jump into the adventure of the indoor game in the NPSL and will play its first season at the Molson Centre.

  • The Impact finds itself at the top of the Northeast division standings, following a 2-0 victory over the Connecticut Wolves before solidifying its lead with a 4-0 shutout win over the Minnesota Thunder in the team’s final home game of the year.

  • With the win, the Impact end the season with a six game win-streak. The club seems ready to embark on a long playoff run; its goalkeeper Paolo Ceccarelli earning three shutouts in his final four games of the season, helping his team finish the year as the top team in the 24-club league.

  • In the game’s first playoff match, Darren Tilley scores a treble and leads the Impact to a dominating 4-0 win over the Toronto Lynx, moving on to the division final versus the Long Island Rough Riders.

  • Following a 2-1 away loss in Long Island, the Impact take the return leg 2-0, on September 14, but cannot score the go ahead goal in extra time and must settle the series in a shootout. Mauro Biello is the only Impact player to score, where three Rough Riders find the back of the net versus Ceccarelli.

  • Does this third early exit in a row signify the end for the Impact’s head coach? Journalist Bertrand Raymond asks the difficult question in the Journal de Montreal: “Gazzola: deadly shootout?”

  • A few days later, Valerio Gazzola becomes the technical director of the Impact, for both the indoor and outdoor teams. The identity of his successor as coach is not released immediately.

  • Fans must wait until October 21 to find out who the club’s new bench boss will be: Johan Aarnio signs a three-year contract to lead both the indoor and outdoor teams.

Giuseppe-Saputo Trophy: Mauro Biello

Photos from the 1997 season

1997 Roster

Top Row (Left to right)      
Name # Pos Date of birth Seasons            Min. played Previous club
Sedgewick, Bill 14 D 02/10/71 1997-1998, 2006 4 281 Edmonton Drillers (NPSL)
Pizzolitto, Nevio 16 D 26/08/76 1994-1998, 2000-2011 23 030 Impact
Oliviero, Giuliano 21 M 26/02/74 1997-1998, 2000-2002 7 640 Vancouver 86ers
Ceccarelli, Paolo 1 G 13/10/73 1994-1998, 2000-2001 7 192 Impact
Tangredi, Ricky 22 G 21/04/76 1996-1997, 2000 270 Hermès (LSEQ)
Kolic, Darko 16 A/F 06/10/71 1997, 2000-2006 4 390 Hajduk Belgrade
Capasso, Tony 21 A/F 13/12/75 1997 119 Milwaukee Rampage
Stathopoulos, Chris 19 A/F 29/12/77 1997-1998, 2000 1 227 Canada U-20
Xavier, Bruno 2 M 18/07/69 1997-1998 2 835 Juventude (Portugal)
             
Middle Row (Left to right)    
Name # Pos Date of birth Seasons            Min. played Previous club
Lachance, Jason Assistant physiotherapist      
Corneli, Nicola 17 D 09/10/75 1997-1998, 2000-2002 3 389  
Hooper, Lyndon 6 M 30/05/66 1995-1998 6 378 Birmingham (UK)
Millien, Francis Assistant Coach      
Gazzola, Valerio Head coach      
Fletcher, Carl 7 D 26/12/71 1996-1998, 2001 6 821 Bristol City (UK)
Tilley, Darren 15 A/F 15/03/67 1997, 2000 1 250 Toronto Lynx
Gould, Wayne Equipment manager assistant    
             
Bottom Row (Left to right)    
Name # Pos Date of birth Seasons            Min. played Previous club
Giannakakis, Tina Head Physiotherapist      
Barker, Lloyd 11 A/D 12/12/70 1993-1997, 2001-2004 13 707 Harbour View (JAM)
De Santis, Nick 4 M 11/09/67 1993-1998, 2000-2003 18 303 Impact
Limniatis, John 8 D 24/06/67 1993-1998, 2000-2001 13 976 Impact
Saputo, Joey President      
Biello, Mauro 21 A/F 08/08/72 1993-1998, 2000-2009 25 288 FC Supra
Needham, Grant 9 A/F 14/07/70 1993-1998 5 814 Impact
Diotte, Patrick 12 D 13/11/67 1993-1998, 2000-2001 16 031 Impact
Moretto, Mike Equipment manager      
             
Inset :          
Lowe, Onandi 10 A/F 02/12/74 1996-1998 1 660 Harbour View (JAM)

Standings

  GP W SW SL L GF GA GD Pts
Montreal Impact 28 20 1 1 6 58 19 39 61
Rochester Raging Rhinos 28 14 0 5 9 56 47 9 42
Long Island Rough Riders 28 13 3 2 10 44 36 8 42
Toronto Lynx 28 12 2 0 14 44 43 1 38
Connecticut Wolves 28 8 4 1 15 31 45 -14 28
Worcester Wildfire 28 6 1 2 19 26 61 -35 19

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 

DIVISION SEMI-FINALS

Montréal a eliminated Toronto 2-1, 4-0
Long Island a eliminated Rochester 1-0 (SO), 2-1 (SO)

DIVISION FINAL

Long Island a eliminated Montreal 2-1, 0-2, 1-0 (MG, SO)

CONFERENCE FINAL

Carolina eliminated Long Island 2-1, 2-0

CHAMPIONSHIP

Milwaukee beat Carolina 2-1 (SO)

The USISL Select League changed its name to A-League. It then absorbed Montreal, Rochester, Toronto, Hershey, Atlanta, Colorado, Seattle and Vancouver from the old A-League which then folded.