The Montreal Impact has been dealt back in.

Or, at least, they’re back at the table, giving indications they’re willing to bet the minimum.
For those who had forgotten the expansion standoff between Impact owner Joey Saputo and MLS commissioner Don Garber earlier this year, it went something like this:

Saputo: We don’t feel we should pay $40 million for an expansion fee.

Garber: Well, $40 million is the bet.

Saputo: Well, we’re going to bet $31 million.

Garber: Then you, sir, are out of the game.

Saputo: That doesn’t seem fair. Did I mention I am Joey Saputo — owner of the Montreal Impact? We attracted 55,000 to a soccer game in February. We’ve already spent $15 million on our stadium. And my family makes really good cheese.

Garber: All very nice, but the minimum bet is $40 million.

Saputo: I’m calling your bluff.

And with that, Garber had Saputo tossed out of the casino by security toughs.

Meanwhile, the two others at the table, Vancouver’s Bob Lenarduzzi and Portland’s Merritt Paulson, sat tight, played a few more hands and ended up paying $35 million for their trouble.

But now Saputo is back, money in hand, saying he is willing to pay the $35-million expansion fee.

Garber’s convinced. So much so that the board of governors discussed the Impact as they met this weekend ahead of Wednesday’s all-star game in Utah. It seems MLS is more than willing to put the past behind them.

But will Saputo?

The league invited Saputo to all-star game. An offer Saputo politely (and insanely) refused because the Impact are playing an international friendly the night before.

Joey, the boss just invited you to dinner and you told him, ‘No thanks, I’m washing my hair.’
But you can do both — I checked online for you. There are 16 available flights on Air Canada that will get you to Salt Lake City on time. Yes, it’ll cost $1,300, but surely that’s worth it if it will turn this game of Old Maid into high-stakes poker again.

An announcement on whether the league will expand in 2012 is expected today. Montreal should play the hand it’s dealt and thank the league for it because, in the end, the MLS house always wins.

– Watch Ben Rycroft on the It’s Called Football show every Monday at metronews.ca; ben.rycroft@metronews.ca