When the New York Red Bulls take the field at Stade Saputo tonight for their matchup against the Montreal Impact, it'll be a sort of homecoming for three members of the Red Bulls. Head Coach Jesse Marsch, midfielder Felipe Martins, and defender Karl Ouimette will all be making their first competitive appearances as visitors to Montreal. Whether it's a happy night or not will depend on the result, but let's look at what the match means for each of them.
Marsch is the first coach for the MLS version of the Impact. He led the squad in their inaugural MLS season in 2012, and took them to a 12-17-7 record. While the team had a losing record for the year, most people agree that the team got better during the later part of the season with a five-match win streak from late July through late August. Marsch was released by the team at the end of the year in what was described as an "amicable" split, and has not been on a MLS bench until he signed with the Red Bulls in January.
After practice Monday, Marsch was asked about going back to Montreal. This is what he had to say:
Not much to it. It's a long time ago now, and they moved on. I'm excited to see my friend Frank Klopas who's their coach up there. But, other than that, just getting our team ready for another good effort on the road.
Felipe has played for seven teams (including New York) in his professional career, but Montreal was the last team he played for before arriving in New York. The team acquired Felipe in a trade that sent Eric Alexander and Ambroise Oyongo north of the border, but got the Red Bulls the all-important allocation spot which was used to sign Sacha Kljestan. When Felipe was asked about returning to Montreal, it was clear he was all in for the Red Bulls.
I think now I play for Red Bulls, this is the team I fight for, this is the team I put everything in. Montreal is in the past, and what's in the past stays in the past. I think I have a respect for them, especially the fans.
Felipe's starting role could be in jeopardy: RBNY's new signings, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Gonzalo Veron, may see the lineup reshuffled. But for now Felipe will play (and probably start against his former team). He won't be the player to keep an eye on though. That honor goes to:
Ouimette is 23 years old, but had never known a soccer life outside of Montreal until this year. His youth career started with Attak de Trois-Rivières which was the Impact Reserve/Academy side in the USL First Division from 2006-2010. He played with them from 2009-2010, and then moved to the official Impact academy the following year. He signed with the Impact as a professional in 2012 under Marsch, and was with the team until he was let go at the end of 2014.
For sure, it was difficult. I went 4 years in the academy, and 3 years in the pro system. For sure, it's very tough to get released from them, it's very hard. ... They just told me there was too many men on the roster, and there wasn't a place for me. That's the reason they gave me, I'll take it and just move on, it's behind me now.
The game will be an emotional one for him as family and friends are expected to pack section 112 of Stade Saputo according to la90eminute.com. When asked about how emotional he thinks it'll be, Ouimette had this to say:
Yea, for sure. I've been there 22 years of my life, so, pretty emotional, a lot of people are going to come, family, friends, it's going to, playing in front of them with another jersey on is going to be interesting.
Don't worry though, Ouimette has found a home in New York, and Jesse Marsch has helped with that.
But being seeing the organization with the Red Bulls, it's amazing and everybody is nice, everybody is positive. I like the coach, I like Jesse a lot, he's competent, and they made it easy for me to turn around just work for the Red Bulls. It's been a nice life out here and I enjoy it.
All in all, it looks like the Montreal contingent of the Red Bulls have moved on from their time with the Impact and are committed to the Red Bulls, providing a good foundation on which the team can build.