Impact 2000 - Return to the outdoor game

View photos and articles from the 2000 season

At the end of January, the Impact is at the top of the standings in the Central division of the NPSL with a record of 14 wins and 11 losses. Despite that, attendance is poor at the Claude-Robillard Sports Complex. It isn’t before mid-February that the Impact sees just its second crow of the season over 3,000 people, with the first coming in the home opener (3,043).

On Sunday, March 5, following a 23-13 loss at the CSU Convention Center in Cleveland, the Impact gives up first place in the division to the Crunch, having held the top spot for three months.

This is the start of a tough stretch of five consecutive losses for the Impact that culminated with the firing of head coach Tasso Koutsoukos and his assistant Pierre Mindru. On March 16, John Limniatis takes over the reins as player/coach.

On March 26, the Impact officially qualifies for the playoffs following a loss in regular season play by the Buffalo Blizzard.

At the beginning of April, the Impact players are given some bad news. They are forced to play all games of their first round playoffs series on the road as management forgot to reserve the field at Claude Robillard, which had scheduled events for the Jeux de Montreal from April 5-9.

Following a season that ended with 24 wins and 20 losses, the impact is ousted from the postseason in two games by the Cleveland Crunch, who scored 21 goals in each game, while the Impact managed to score just 18 in total. “We didn’t end the season they we wanted,” noted Nick De Santis.

At the end of the year, Giuliano Oliviero was named player of the year.

With just 25 days until the start of the outdoor season, President Joey Saputo announces that the next head coach will be someone living in Quebec.

On April 14, the journal de Montreal announces that Zoran Jankovic was the candidate selected to take over the coaching job, he who was trained in the former Yugoslavia and was a coach with the Quebec Soccer Federation.

Training camp opens at Claude-Robillard on Tuesday, April 25. Among the new recruits, forward Darko Kolic takes the field, who played for the Long Island Rough Necks the season prior. However, the biggest question mark lies in goal as keeper Paolo Ceccarelli is recovering from a hamstring injury that will sideline him until the end of May.

The schedule for the 2000 season begins with a loss, on May 6, falling 2-1 to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on the road. Peter Zaratin starts in goal. 16 days later, the Impact falls 1-0 to the Toronto Lynx on Sunday, May 21.

Thankfully, the Impact is successful in its home opener, defeating the Connecticut Wolves 2-1. Newcomer Dejan Gluscevic scores the lone goal, with assists to Mauro Biello and… Patrice Bernier. Only black mark on the day was a small crowd of 2,000 spectators.

In order to add depth to the roster, the Impact brings back forward Darren Tilley. Then in a friendly on May 31 against Reggina, a Serie A team from Calabria, the Impact plays to a 0-0 draw with the Raleigh Capital Express.

After leading the Impact to a record of one win and three losses, Zoran Jankovic is fired and replaced by Valerio Gazzola, who has a tough job ahead of him with two games in 24 hours. The result: two more losses, 2-1 to the Rochester Raging Rhinos and 4-0 to the Toronto Lynx.

For Gazzola’s first game back at home, the Impact manage a 1-1 draw with the Lynx on June 16.

With patience running thin, the impact management cleans house, releasing seven players including veteran John Limniatis, forward Darren Tilley and goalkeeper Ricky Tangredi, just two days before playing the Long Island Rough Riders on July 7.

The Impact earns just its second win of the season (two wins, nine losses), first under Gazzola, topping the Rough Riders 2-1. The game winner scored by Josue Mayard, member of the Haitian national team and signed just a week earlier by the club.

At the end of July, improvement is evident. The Impact finds six wins during the month and hope remains for a playoff spot in the A League.

On August 8, it is announced that the indoor NPSL edition of the Impact is sold to an ownership group from the Toronto Thunderhawks. This team will make its debut in fall 2001.

On August 20, the impact earns a 1-0 victory over the Rochester Raging Rhinos in front of its biggest crowd of the season, 4,237 spectators. The game winner is scored by forward Darko Kolic and the shutout earned by Jim Larkin.

On September 1, the team’s final hopes of qualifying for the playoffs are dashed as the Raleigh Capital Express grab the final spot up for grabs.

In mid-September, the Impact announces that it will return to outdoor play in 2001. Then in mid-October, the “outdoor” version of the club is sold to a group of financiers from Montreal. On October 13, the new owners are introduced: the Ionian Group, with Montreal mayor Pierre Bourque in attendance, at city hall.

The Ionian Group promises to invest more money into the club. They announce the signing of a five-year contract with Valerio Gazzola and John Limniatis is introduced as the director of soccer operations.

2000 Roster

Top Row (Left to right)        
Name # Pos Date of birth Seasons Min. played Previous club
Ribeiro, Antonio 6 M 08/10/80 2000-2001, 2003-2008, 2010 7 030 Jean-Talon/Rosemont (LSEQ)
Kolic, Darko 11 A/F 06/10/71 1997, 2000-2006 4 390 Long Island (A League)
Ceccarelli, Paolo 1 G 13/10/73 1994-1998, 2000-2001 7 192 Impact
Pinto, Nicolas 26 G 19/07/78 2000 23 FC Sélect Rive-Sud (LSEQ)
Leduc, Patrick 15 M 26/12/77 2000-2010 15 166 Farleigh Dickenson
Bernier, Patrice 17 M 23/09/79 2000-2002 6 445 Syracuse (NCAA)
Édouard, Vladimir 10 A/F 18/06/78 1998, 2000 747 Maccabia Nazareth (ISR)
             
Middle Row (Left to right)        
Name # Pos Date of birth Seasons Min. played Previous club
Moretto, Mike Equipment manager      
Mayard, Josué 18 M 10/03/80 2000 1 150 Conquérants Laval (LSEQ)
François, Abraham 3 D 07/06/77 2000-2001, 2003-2004 2 786 Jean-Talon/Rosemont (LSEQ)
Gazzola, Valerio Head coach      
Ngon (Gerba), Ali 9 A/F 04/09/81 2000, 2003, 2005, 2010 3 232 Conquérants Laval (LSEQ)
St-Laurent, Bernard 14 D 06/04/82 2000 0 Cosmos LaSalle (LSEQ)
Gould, Wayne Assistant equipment manager      
Seaman, Joanne  Therapist        
             
Bottom Row (Left to right)        
Name # Pos Date of birth Seasons Min. played Previous club
Pizzolitto, Nevio 16 D 26/08/76 1994-1998, 2000-2011 23 030 Impact
Stathopoulos, Chris 19 A/F 29/12/77 1997-1998, 2000 1 227 Canada U-20
Diotte, Patrick 12 D 13/11/67 1993-1998, 2000-2001 16 031 Impact
Arshagouni, Pari President        
De Santis, Nick 4 M 11/09/67 1993-1998, 2000-2003 18 303 Impact
Saputo, Joey President of the board      
Biello, Mauro 21 A/F 08/08/72 1993-1998, 2000-2009 25 288 Impact
Corneli, Nicola 7 D 09/10/75 1997-1998, 2000-2002 3 389  
Oliviero, Giuliano 21 M 26/02/74 1997-1998, 2000-2002 7 640 Vancouver 86ers

Standings

Team GP W L T GF GA BP Pts
Long Island Rough Riders 28 16 9 3 54 36 9 76
Rochester Raging Rhinos 28 17 9 2 42 25 3 73
Toronto Lynx 28 13 11 4 35 30 3 59
Montreal Impact 28 12 13 3 34 41 3 54
Boston Bulldogs 28 9 16 3 32 41 3 39
Connecticut Wolves 28 1 19 8 22 57 1 13

4 points for a win
1 point for a tie
1 bonus point for scoring 3 goals or more in a game 

CONFERENCE SEMI-FINALS

Rochester eliminated Charleston 2-0, 1-0
Toronto eliminated Richmond 1-0, 1-0

CONFERENCE FINAL

Rochester eliminated Toronto 1-1, 1-0

CHAMPIONSHIP

Milwaukee defeated Minnesota 3-1

At the end of the season, US Project 40 left the league. Boston was relegated to D3Pro League. So were Bay Area and Orange County but these two teams folded before next season began. Raleigh also folded. Hampton Roads went on hiatus.