Home MLS Montreal Impact Marsch’s trip to Denmark a catalyst for Impact’s acquisition of Bernier

Marsch’s trip to Denmark a catalyst for Impact’s acquisition of Bernier

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The Montreal Impact announced this morning who would be wearing the No. 8 jersey when the club takes the field for its MLS debut in March.

« L’Impact de Montréal est fier d’annoncer aujourd’hui la signature du milieu de terrain québécois, le numéro huit, Patrice Bernier,» declared head coach Jesse Marsch in accented but grammatically correct French, unlike another recently named Montreal head coach.

A 32-year-old Brossard, Que. native, the midfielder returns to the team with whom he made his pro debut in 2000 when it was competing in the A-League. Since then he has performed in Europe, joining Norwegian side Moss FK in 2003 and most recently suiting up for Denmark’s Lyngby Boldklub, for whom he made a dozen appearances in 2011.

Still nominally under contract to the Danish club, Bernier has an out clause in the pact that means he will not have to finish the season overseas. He has not been declared one of Montreal’s Designated Players.

“I’m really happy to be back in Montreal with the Impact organization,” he said. “It’s nice to come here and play – It’s home so that’s an extra bonus. When you’re 32 you look at where you’ve been and where you want to go. This was an exciting project and I’m at the right age and also I’m feeling good physically to come here and contribute to help this club and this team succeed from the first minute. I’m proud to be back and I’d like to thank the organization. There has been a lot of back and forth between us to get an agreement and I’d like to thank Jesse Marsch (and the) organization because he took the step to come all the way to Denmark and we had a chat. It gave me the chance to really say that I can take that first step towards maybe coming back home so I have to thank him and the organization for that.”

The courtship was initiated almost immediately upon Marsch being named to direct the Impact’s on-field fortunes for next season and featured a lot of back and forth between the two parties before both were satisfied.

“It took a long time. The dreamer in you wants to come back and, yeah, you want to play and you have high hopes but the sportsman in you knows it doesn’t necessarily work that way. You go where the demand is and also there has to be a balance on the team,” Bernier said. “The people on the other side have to make their decisions regarding what they want. If I fit in, great, and the fact that I’m from here just happens to be a bonus.”

Queried on the difference in calibre between the football played in Europe and the game as practiced on this side of the Atlantic, Bernier wouldn’t categorize one as superior to the other, preferring to mention the differences in approach.

“A lot of people like to compare the play of different leagues, saying one is better than the other. Europe is more of a tactical game while the North American game is more north-south. We want to be entertained and see more goal chances so the game here is more open, more going forward, which I like in some ways. The European style is more about talent and finding the right time to attack.”

Asked whether his return might serve as a catalyst for other signings of Quebec-born players presently playing beyond Canadian borders, Bernier said, “I think that most local players would be interested in coming back home to play but everybody travels their own career path. The dream is certainly to play in Montreal but there are also your own career objectives and personal ambitions to take into account. Most of them are younger than I am so there’s always the chance they can come back in the future.”

Technical director Nick De Santis remarked on the benefits that time has permitted and minimized any expectations that the team might have of Bernier that they would not hold of an imported team member.

“In the past 10 years Patrice has gained a lot of European experience. He’s not the same player he was ten years ago. When we think of the position he’s going to be playing, it’s important that we have stability and savvy and experience. All the other stuff is a bonus, being a local player. Those are the things we made sure of. We know that he’ll wear the jersey with pride and fight to win every day. We don’t question that. It’s up to him to manage the pressures of being the local player. There’s no extra pressure put on him from the club in that respect. He has to perform like all the others for the team to be successful.”

“To be fair, he wound up being the big guy on the radar because he was from here but I knew of him before I took the job here. You can see his intelligence and his sharpness on the field,” said Marsch.”He’s a guy in the middle of the field who makes everyone around him better, and we need that.

“I think there are little adjustments he can make pretty easily and he’s going to provide our team with a lot. He’s already equipped with so many of the tools needed to be a good player in that spot,” the coach continued. “But I’ve also said to him, ‘I can make you better’ so we’re going to push each other and I’m going to push him to get better every day. That way he can continue his career in the right way and establish himself here as a great player.”

 

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