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Impact unveil new jersey in preparation for inaugural season

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The Canadian Press
12/1/2011 9:27:44 PM
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MONTREAL -- The new players on the Montreal Impact gathered for the first time on Thursday and got a look at the uniforms they will be wearing when the club enters Major League Soccer next season.

Newcomers like goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, midfielder Davy Arnaud and striker Justin Braun got to show off the club's new gear on a fashion show-style runway as the new shirts and shorts were unveiled before a few hundred invited fans and well-wishers Thursday at the Montreal Science Centre.

The Impact, who join MLS as it's 19th club in 2012, opted to stick with the traditional blue-and-white colours they wore while winning three championships in various second division leagues since the early 1990s.

"I'm excited to be here," said Braun, who joined the Impact from Chivas USA. "I'm coming here with a blank slate.

"I'm trying to learn the city and the culture here. I think it'll be fun. It's nice to experience new things, especially something big like this."

The team's main shirt and shorts will be deep blue with white patches under the arms and white stripes from the shoulders down, while the away jerseys are the same except they are white with blue trim.

A splash of red is incorporated with the team's jersey sponsor BMO, the same bank whose logo adorns the shirts of Toronto FC. No doubt a bitter rivalry will develop considering fans booed when TFC's colours were shown on a video screen.

It's not a unique situation, as even age-old Scottish rivals Celtic and Rangers have the same beer brand's logo on their shirts.

"I think it's great, we'll see how our fans accept it," team president Joey Saputo said.

The team's new kit was designed by league sponsor Adidas, with input from the club.

It includes an embossed cross made up of tiny fleur-de-lys representing the cross atop Mount Royal that overlooks downtown. The two stripes down the sleeves represent the river that flows past the island of Montreal.

Near the collar on the back of the jersey is the team motto in French, "Tous pour gagner," or "All for victory."

There is also an MLS logo on the right sleeve and a Canadian flag on the left.

"Obviously it's very beautiful," said Mauro Biello, a long-time Impact player who is an assistant to head coach Jesse Marsch. "They're Montreal colours. It's a big day for soccer in Montreal. Making a big splash tonight is great. We're looking forward to the season."

Fans sang the team supporters' songs as a handful of players, as well as boxer Jean Pascal and former NHL players Patrice Brisebois and Eric Fichaud, posed in the jerseys.

Fans chanted his name as Colombian defender Nelson Rivas, the first player acquired by the team for the jump to MLS, was first onto the runaway in the new gear.

They will play their inaugural home game March 17 at Olympic Stadium, where they will be based until Saputo Stadium is expanded to 20,000 seats to meet MLS criteria.

After an expansion draft last week and the acquisition of a few more players in trades and signings, there are 18 players on the roster. Only three of them played for Montreal last season -- goalkepper Evan Bush, defender Hassoun Camera and midfielder Sinisa Ubiparipovic.

"It's huge challenge," said Arnaud, a 10-year MLS veteran with Kansas City. "There's not a lot of time now between the team assembling and the start of the season, but you should be excited for this kind of challenge."

The Impact are waiting to see what transpires with their first expansion draft pick Brian Ching, who has said he would retire rather than leave Houston. Montreal is expected to make a deal with Dynamo and are reportedly asking for Montreal-born right back Andrew Hainault.

There will be another opportunity for acquisitions in the re-entry draft on Monday for players whose contracts have expired or whose options weren't renewed.

"I think with the draft and the trades we made, we brought a lot of experienced guys,' said Saputo. "A guy like Davy Arnaud has played 10 years in MLS and has been a captain. I'm not scooping you, but I wouldn't be surprised if Davy becomes the Montreal Impact's first captain. He's that type of character."

Players model new jersey (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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