Starting 11 for May 21…1993

There are a few milestones in an organization’s lifespan that are worth celebrating. For the Montreal Impact, the 25th anniversary of the club’s existence is one of them.

This Monday against the LA Galaxy will mark 25 years to the day since the Montreal Impact played its first ever home game at the Claude-Robillard Sports complex, in front of 5,380 fans. The Bleu-blanc-noir – although they weren’t called that back then – came away with a 4-2 victory against the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Let’s take a look at where some of that starting 11 is today, almost 25 years after that inaugural home game.

Patrick Diotte # 17
8 seasons, 204 games played
1 goal, 5 assists

Patrick Diotte will always be remembered by the Bleu-blanc-noir family as one of first Quebeckers to play for the Montreal Impact. He was born on Montreal’s south shore, in Longueuil, and began his career with the Ottawa Pioneers in the Canadian Soccer League.

Diotte enjoyed a 15-year career in the world of sports, spanning from 1987 to 2001, his last year with the Montreal Impact. What some of you might not have known about Diotte, however, is that he stayed in school during his career. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a specialization in actuarial in 1991 from the Université de Montréal, and another bachelor’s in administrative affairs with a specialization in accounting.

With a few more courses completed after his retirement with the Bleu-blanc-noir, he now works as a private wealth management advisor.

Dino Lopez #5
1 season, 6 games played
1 goal

Dino Lopez’s time in Montreal was short, but his inclusion in the first ever Montreal Impact starting 11 means his name will be etched in team history forever.

Lopez played his entire career in North America, finishing it in 1998 with the Toronto Olympians in the newly-formed Canadian Professional Soccer League.  

Since then, Lopez has earned a bachelor’s in economics from York University. He joined Oakville Soccer Club in 2002, and held various positions, including development director, head coach, and technical director. Lopez would then join Toronto FC, where he acted as assistant coach for TFC Academy, before becoming the manager of business and partnerships for TFC Juniors. Lopez also worked on earning his USSF National A license through the years.

Don’t worry Dino, we’ll always remember you even if you work with the enemy now.

Patrice Ferri #3
2 seasons, 41 games played
2 goals, 10 assists

Patrice Ferri entered the Impact family in 1993, from Ligue 1 club Olympique Lyonnais. Ferri spent one year with Lyon, in 1992-93, which was also Impact head coach Rémi Garde’s last year with l’OL as a player.

He had featured on teams in France like AS Cannes, RC Strasbourg, and AS Saint-Étienne, where he began his career in 1981, signing an apprenticeship contract as a 17-year old.

After leaving the Montreal Impact, he returned to France and joined amateur club AS Poissy as a player-coach. He officially hung up his cleats in 1997 and took full control of head coaching duties until 2004. In 2005, he joined the media world.

He would work with Canal+ and Infosport before joining football media giant beIN Sports, where he provides commentary for a variety of European matchups across all competitions.

Otmane Ibrir #18
2 seasons, 11 games played

Ibrir had first joined the Montreal Supra in 1991 from the Algerian First Division, eventually joining the Montreal Impact in 1993 and featuring in the starting 11 for its inaugural home game.

After his spell with the Impact, Ibrir fell into coaching, leading the Canadian team to victory in the 1997 Jeux de la Francophonie in Madagascar. Then, in 1998, he took over coaching duties for the Canadian Men’s U-17 team.

In 2001, the Quebec Soccer Federation and Canadian Soccer Association announced that Otmane Ibrir had been hired as the new Technical Director of the Federation and Head Coach of the National High Performance Centre (NHPC).

In 2007, Ibrir’s career took him across the Atlantic and back to Algeria, where he would work with the Algerian Football Federation to put in place the country’s first ever football academy. Under Ibrir’s direction, the U-17 team qualified for the World Cup for the first time in its history.

After a small spell with Paradou AC, a club based in Algiers, Ibrir was back in Quebec in 2010, to the same position he had left back in 2007, as Techical Director of the Federation. Today, Ibrir works as the regional technical director of the Richelieu-Yamaska regional soccer association.

Pierre-Richard Thomas #17
1 season, 9 games started

It was with great sadness that the Montreal Impact said goodbye to Pierre-Richard Thomas less than a month ago. The former Impact player still lived in Montreal, managing the Prestige soccer school in Cote-des-Neiges.

Other than his accomplishments on the field, people will remember Thomas particularly for the coach he became, working with players individually or in groups to improve specific aspects of their game, doing so with the utmost humility and dedication.

From your family at the Montreal Impact, you will always be remembered.

Nick Dasovic #7
2 seasons, 40 games played
4 goals, six assists

Dasovic has certainly kept himself busy since his time with the Impact. After two seasons with the Bleu-blanc-noir, Dasovic kept playing with spells in France, Sweden, and Scotland. Finally, the Canadian international ended up with the Vancouver Whitecaps from 2002-05, where he began his coaching career as a player-coach.

He would move on to take a position as an assistant for the Canadian U-20s from 2005-07. Next up, he helped cultivate young players as the head coach of Toronto FC’s academy, while also serving as an assistant for the senior squad from 2008-10. He also spent part of 2008 as an assistant for Canada’s national team while also piloting Canada’s U-23s through CONCACAF’s 2008 Olympic Qualifying; Dasovic led Canada to the semifinals of the qualification process.

On September 14, 2010, Dasovic was named interim head coach for Toronto FC. He finished the campaign 3-4-3 before moving on to become the head coach of the Canadian U-20s in 2011.

Dasovic eventually founded Dasovic-Neil coaching, along with former Canadian soccer player Andrea Neil, where they offer mentorship opportunities for coaches to improve and deepen their knowledge.

Marco Rizi #6,14
3 seasons, 44 games played
3 goals, 6 assists

Rizi continued playing the beautiful game in North America until 2002, when he officially announced his retirement. Since then, the former midfielder has had an array of roles, coaching the Fairview boys soccer team for a while.

He eventually moved to Ohio, joining the Ohio Premier Soccer Club for a few years, leading the U13 team to a regional championship in 2007, and the U18 team to a state championship in 2008. He was also a former coach for CSA Impact United, a club out of Cleveland.

Today, Rizi still lives in Ohio with his wife, in Rocky River, Ohio, where he owns a home renovation company called ALPHA Builders LLC. Rizi was actually the one who recommended goalie Evan Bush, also from Ohio, to the club. Not a bad recommendation, considering he’s still with us today.

Nick De Santis #4
10 seasons, 234 games played
21 goals, 31 assists

Out of everyone in Montreal’s first starting 11, not one has had a bigger impact for the club as Nick De Santis has. After a season as a player-assistant under head coach Bob Lilley in 2003, De Santis took over coaching duties in 2004, and started the season with a 12-game unbeaten streak. He led the team all the way to the A-League final, where the Impact would triumph over the Seattle Sounders by a 2-0 score. De Santis would finish runner-up for the Coach of the Year award.

Not too shabby for your first year coaching. Eventually, Nick stepped down to be replaced by John Limniatis in 2008. He would be named the club’s technical director, and then sporting director in 2011 in preparation for club’s ascension into MLS. Today, De Santis is vice-president, international relations and technical development, after being named director of international business development on September 4, 2014.

He has the unique distinction of winning the playoff championship with the Impact in all three roles that he has held with the club so far, triumphing as a player in 1994, as head coach in 2004 and as technical director in 2009.

Cameron Walker #14
1 season, 10 games played
2 goals

Cameron Walker was only with the club for one season and ended his career in 1995 after a season in the Canadian Soccer League with the St. Catharines Wolves. Since then, Walker stayed in Montreal and worked in renovations, before moving to Oakville and opening his own painting company.

His son is currently in the Toronto FC Academy, working under a former Impact player, also in this list, Dino Lopez.

Pat Harrington #1
2 seasons, 47 games played
15 shutouts, 178 saves

Pat Harrington has the honour of being the first starting goalkeeper in Impact history. He was previously with the Montreal Supra, which he had joined after a spell in England with Charlton Athletic FC.

Harrington left the Impact after two seasons and continued playing in North America until he retired in 2000. Today, he lives in California with his wife Sue and his two sons, Quinn and Mackenzie. He orifinally left Montreal in 1999 to join the Sacramento Knights, and eventually got into technology after his retirement.  He has since started several start-ups.