Why De Santis’ Release From Montreal is Bittersweet

Nick De Santis has been a key figure for the Impact in all its years, but results spoke louder than feelings
by Henrik Lonne   |   Thursday, July 31, 2014

Made in Canada - coverage of the Canadian MLS, NASL & USL Clubs, CSL, PCSL, Canadian Championship & Canada National Teams

In North American soccer, the name of the game for many years was instability. One of the few exceptions from this has been the Montreal Impact. Founded in 1993 by the Saputo family, they have been a consistent presence within Canadian and North American soccer.

In its many years in the lower divisions, the team was often successful due to the passion by the owners and the accompanying money, meaning they could outspent many of their opponents. Part of this club has almost always been Nick De Santis. First as a player, later as a coach and lastly sporting director, he has been a symbol of the club’s culture.

While getting into MLS was a big success for the Impact, it may also have been that event that eventually became the bane of De Santis. With the clubs willing and ability to outspend opponents in the lower divisions, De Santis had an easier task as a coach and sporting director than his colleagues at opposing clubs.

When entering into MLS the playing field changed. With single entity and a salary cap, De Santis, Saputo and the Impact could no longer spend they way to success. While reaching the play-in game last season, the Impacts time in MLS has been a mixed bag of results, as those never really matched the passion and energy, which the ownership had for team.

As responsible for the sporting sector, the blame would eventually have to fall on de Santis, and his responsibilities are now placed with Chicago Fire head coach Frank Klopas. While the MLS incarnation of the Impact so far has not been generous with minutes for Canadians, it is interesting whether this approach will only be solidified with the entire sporting sector now being controlled by an American with no particular ties or knowledge of Canadian soccer.

De Santis will not be unemployed, as he will retain an administrative role within the team, but it is sad to see a Canadian lose his job within Canadian soccer especially when the replacement is American. This is not a slight on Klopas or his nationality, but Canadian soccer is at a stage, where it needs as many Canadians in vital positions as possible to grow. On the other hand it shows a level of maturity, that de Santis cannot retain his job regardless of results.

If one can hope anything from Wednesday’s event it will be that the Montreal Impact’s on field performances can finally begin to match the passion of Joey Saputo. If that can happen and it can include as many Canadian players as possible, this will be a good thing for Canadian soccer.

Henrik LONNE

Copenhagen Business School
Club Domestic:
AGF Aarhus
Club Foreign:
Toronto FC
Born and raised in Denmark, the US performance in the 2002 World Cup dragged Henrik into the world of North American soccer. Subsequent trips to Canada made him a Toronto FC fan from abroad. The passion he now has for MLS outshines most European leagues.