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Updated: Montreal not a soccer town? Better rethink that one

Jesse Marsch

Montreal Impact head coach Jesse Marsch walks off the pitch after losing 2-0 to the Vancouver Whitecaps during an MLS soccer match in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Saturday, March 10, 2012. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck)


A full slate awaits, nine MLS weekend matches, with seven up today. Here are five quick storylines to watch, starting with the 2 p.m. (ET) historic first kick in Montreal.

  • The Impact is working hard to smash the city soccer attendance record, set back in 1981 in the North American Soccer League; a crowd of 58,542 watched the old Montreal Manic host the Chicago Sting. They’ve added temporary seating for Saturday’s franchise MLS debut. So I’d wager my prized, vintage California Surf t-shirt the old mark will fall. Here’s a good read on the big buzz around Montreal.
  • (Update ... They made it! A crowd of 58,912 established a new record.)
  • Real Salt Lake is better than New York. Period. Done. Or so says Thierry Henry. … Or, could that wily old Frenchman be setting up the Red Bulls opponent here? Is he lulling them into a false sense of security ahead of tonight’s match from Rio Tinto? We’ll see.
  • Who could blame Toronto FC, fresh off historic achievement, for dipping a little on the enthusiasm meter? And now Aron Winter’s men go into Seattle to face a humbled (and probably ornery) Sounders side? This looks like a whuppin’ waiting to happen. Then again, that’s what we said about TFC’s mid-week visit into L.A. – and you saw how that turned out for them.
  • FC Dallas’ offense is without Brek Shea, David Ferreira and Fabian Castillo? Hmmm. Blas Perez, you’re on the hot seat. So, welcome to MLS! You’re a crusty old veteran in the league now, a full 90 minutes of league experience tucked into your Panamanian tool belt. Got two or three in you today against the Timbers?
  • “Old San Jose” meets “San Jose 2.0” in San Francisco’s AT&T Park. That begs the question: How long should we refer to the Houston vs. Earthquakes match this way? (Probably not much longer, eh?) The Houston Dynamo, of course, relocated from San Jose back in 2006. San Jose manager Frank Yallop remains good pals with Orange manager Dominic Kinnear, who started his coaching under Yallop back during their days in the Bay.
  • Finally, the Philadelphia Union has been fantastic at PPL Park over two years, with a 12-4-14 record in Chester during that time. They lost just once last year at PPL. Colorado provides the first home test this year for Peter Nowak’s men, who weren’t bad but were far from their best in losing the opener at Portland. (The Union-Rapids match is Sunday, 4 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network).