Karl Ouimette recalls the Impact’s first playoff qualification
As per every Wednesday and Friday at 7:30pm until further notice, the Montreal Impact will broadcast an old classic tonight on impactmontreal.com.
After witnessing the wonders of the Italian striker Marco Di Vaio in Wednesday’s airing of a 5-3 romping of the Philadelphia Union, in which the Impact’s first Designated Player netted a hat-trick, tonight we go to the end of 2013, in a victory that allowed the Impact to qualify for the MLS Cup playoffs for the very first time in its history.
That game, once again against the Philadelphia Union, was a must-win. Lose, and the Impact had no chance of qualifying. Win, and you’re almost in. History shows that the Impact would take this game 2-1, with Di Vaio scoring the goal to bring the score level.
The winning goal, the one that would go down in the history books years later, came from a most unlikely source.
Karl Ouimette, the Montreal Impact’s first Homegrown player, got on the end of a perfect cross from Justin Mapp to head the ball past the goalkeeper and send the Impact to the promised land.
“We had started the season on fire that year,” recalled Ouimette. “We started well, but then teams started to catch up. We found ourselves in a situation in which we had to win, if not it was pretty much over. I remember we had a lot of expectation heading into, and our adrenaline was through the roof. We wanted to do well.”
But things got off to a rocky start at Stade Saputo, with the visitors opening the scoring in the 29th minute, making the Impact’s task a lot harder heading into the second half down a goal. Still, the home side never wavered, clawing back into the game and scoring the winning goal in the 84th minute.
“I just rewatched the highlights,” added Ouimette. “It was a good game, and scoring the winning goal, the one that puts us through to the playoffs, is just the cherry on the sundae.”
A milestone goal
Seven years later, that goal scored by Ouimette takes on another dimension. Its importance was undoubtable the second it was scored, considering the implications it had for the 2013 edition of the first team.
But it takes on another meaning for the Impact’s Academy, who saw its first ever product make that kind of an impact in an MLS game.
“By being the first one to sign with the club from the Academy, I wanted to pave the way for others,” explained Ouimette. “I wanted to perform well to associate a positive image to Homegrown players. Those players, they’re not there to stay on the bench. They can be starters, and they can be important players long term.”
That goal would go down in hisotru as the first ever scored by a Homegrown Player for the Impact.
“In 2012, when I signed, we didn’t talk about Homegrown players,” said Ouimette. “In another eight or nine years, maybe three or four Homegrown players will always start. That’s the Montreal Impact’s long-term vision. It’s nice to be a part of it and be one of the first.