Now that I have your attention with the "prodigal son" title, it is great news to see that the Montreal Impact have signed home boy, Patrice Bernier, to an MLS contract adding depth,experience,talent, professionalism and more to the 19th MLS franchise.
Before talking about the signing, what will it bring to the team and more, I would like to congratulate the Impact for a classy, informative press conference in which everything was pretty much clear and to the point. including:
- The recruiting process and the back and forth between Jesse Marsch and Patrice Bernier
- The expectations that the Montreal Impact have for Patrice Bernier
- Patrice Bernier's expectations towards the Montreal Impact and himself as per his role on and off the field
- and more..
Kudos to Jesse Marsch for making the regular effort of starting his official press conferences with a few French sentences, showing respect to the culture without going overboard. From A to Z, the Montreal Impact are giving the Montreal Canadiens a lesson in PR with clear and concise messages, no smokes and mirrors.
Being Canadian, hence filling one of the 3 mandatory Canadian spots (as per MLS roster Rules) , Quebecer and Montrealer, Patrice Bernier would be the perfect candidate for being a hero and son of this city in the realm of soccer.But Patrice Bernier is neither a hero nor a prodigal son. He is a soccer player with his qualities and faults who will bring his experience, poise, intensity and professionalism, qualities that an expansion team will look for to build its foundations with.
You know that a team and coach are interested in a player when the coach takes the time to travel to Denmark to watch the player play and talk to him. Jesse Marsch has indicated to have an eye on Patrice Bernier since taking the job in Montreal and did not shy away from complimenting him for what he can bring on the pitch. Keywords like ''saavy, intelligence, tactical awareness'' were words used by Marsch, words that were not chosen randomly and carefully weighted.
Bernier's leadership quality was a big factor in the signing of Patrice Bernier as Jesse Marsch and the whole Impact organization expect him to take on a leadership role within the team. The newly acquired midfielder appreciated Jesse Marsch's trip to Denmark as both men were able the team's plans for him and where/how would he fit in those plans.
Local content but not by default
With a resume that includes playing in Germany, Norway and Denmark, and 40+ International cap with the Canadian National Team, Patrice Bernier is bringing more than the home boy feel to the team. Actually, Jesse Marsch, Nick De Santis (Sporting Director) and Patrice Bernier himself quickly stated that as much as being a local player is important, it is the soccer component that is important. Soccer wise is where the importance lies and the Montreal Impact will make Patrice Bernier an important piece of their team. Once again the Montreal Impact have quickly stated the rules of the game, unlike the Montreal Canadiens, about their recruitement process.
As much as the Montreal Impact is a Montreal and Quebec organisation, it also recognizes excellence, added value and performance. Patrice Bernier says it himself when he states that as much as he appreciates coming back home, he is back for the pitch and the rest is more of a bonus (that he will gladly take). He understands that he has a role to play as local player playing for his hometown in the MLS without ever forgetting that it's all about what happens on the field.
Taking us to the next point, like we say in French ''La verite est sur le terrain'' : the truth is in the field.
The Truth is on the Field
As a 32 year-old, Patrice Bernier understands where he stands in his career, what he can bring to the team and what he can learn. Coming from Europe where the game is more tactical and strategy oriented, he realizes that the MLS is a whole new game and is humble enough to realize that and wanting the challenge. Usually, a defensive midfielder, Patrice Bernier could prove to bring some offense knowing that the MLS has a more open style of play than Europe.
Nick De Santis re-inforced the importance of having the right player for the right team tagging the signing to ''make sense'' for both parties. The Montreal Impact will get 10 years of overseas experience and soccer mileage from Patrice Bernier but also realizes that an adjustement period will be needed ''but all the other stuff is bonus, from him to be a local player'', well said by Nick De Santis.
I cannot stress that enough in a city like Montreal that jumps at every language violation , that forsters an umbilical relationship for having the local player at all cost, with no regard to soccer skills beyond a superficial analysis that does not look at the real fit of the player in the team, in the organization.
As a central midfielder, in a more defensive role, Patrice Bernier will be playing an important position as per defensive awareness, ball distribution, offensive support for the attacking players and defensive support for the defensive players. Jesse Marsch has an interesting connection to Patrice Bernier as he played the same position in his MLS days as a player. He recognizes that Bernier ''is already equipped with so many of the tools in that spot'' to be successfull in that position but leaves room for improvement and showed confidence in being able to ''make him better'' as a player.
Congratulations to the Montreal Impact for a good signing that many Montrealers hoped. The signing makes total sense soccer wise, the only factor that should count for an expansion team that needs to built correctly and not please via a PR game that will make them sign a local player for the wrong reasons.
Weight: 170 lbs
Birth date: September 23, 1979, Brossard, Québec
Place of residence: Brossard, QC
Former club: Lyngby BK (Denmark)
Acquired: December 19, 2011