Wandrille Lefèvre is a Canadian citizen now, and is eagerly awaiting a call up from coach Benito Floro to the men's national team. He's been in a run of good form recently, and honestly, is one of the better defenders on the Impact roster. Coached by the experienced defensive staff, and learning from Laurent Ciman, Wandoo has nowhere to go but up.
Good for him - I couldn't be happier as a fan of the Impact, and as a fan of local soccer - because as much as we like Wandoo here at Mount Royal Soccer (especially his tackles against Giovinco) we also love the Impact academy and what it means for Montréal, Québec and the national team. A healthy academy draws the best and brightest prospects from around the region, whether it's the PLSQ or local universities, and turns them into the future of the Montréal Impact.
Wandrille is unique in his career trajectory. He's among other national team veterans from the Impact, like defender Karl Ouimette (now with New York Red Bulls) and midfielder Maxim Tissot who are pulling double duty. What separates Wandrille from both Ouimette and Tissot is that he chose to be here, rather than his pays d'origine, France.
Coming to Canada as a teenager, Wandrille played in the academy system in France. When he found himself in Montréal, he needed to adapt to a new style of play, all while making new friends, adjusting to a new environment and keeping up his grades. He would go on to play for les Carabins at l'université de Montréal, one of the better teams in the CIS, when the Impact academy noticed (and subsequently) recruited him. He made his debut in 2013 under coach Marco Schillibaum, and has been a feature on the Impact line-up ever since, earning substantial minutes in the MLS, and CONCACAF Champions League play.
As a defender, he's been excellent for the Impact. For team Canada, he'd be a welcome addition to an often struggling back line. There is no reason why Wandrille Lefèvre could not take the place of Ashtone Morgan, David Edgar or Adam Straith as a defender on the national team. Wandoo has been substituted all along the back-line of the Impact since 2013, and has performed with considerable tenacity and determination, especially in 2015 when he's minimized his errors. He's better than the player he was in 2013, and will only get better with more minutes on the Impact back-line.
This of course brings up another point about not only Lefèvre, but the Impact Academy as an institution: it's becoming a destination. Wandrille is just the top of the iceberg. There are players from dozens of immigrant countries in la Francophonie that are seeing young talent develop alongside local kids from the university and PLSQ systems in the academy. They've been reasonably successful as well. It speaks to a growing soccer culture in Montréal and Québec, that young talent from the region can develop their skills here, and ply their trade either at home with l'Impact de Montréal, or abroad as local talent Phillipe Davies (Ottawa Fury) and André Hainault (unattached) have done.
The better the academy and our local clubs and players become, the better the Impact will perform. That's just simple logic. But this is not just about the Impact and the MLS, or our local talent pools. We need to think a little bigger than that. We should be thinking about local Montréalais starting in a FIFA World Cup, representing the Impact brand. That would prove the Wandrille Lefèvre experience to be fruitful.
Canada is not a soccer power, but there is no reason why we could not become one with 35 million people and several professional academies. The fact that Montréal is at the vanguard of that development system and can produce talent like Wandoo, Ouimette, Tissot and Maxime Crépeau in only 3 full MLS seasons speaks volumes about the role that Montréal and Québec can play in producing a hotbed of soccer culture that will produce and inspire a new generation of players, performers and fans. The fact that we can retain eligible talent here in Montréal, rather than see them flee to play for the chance to play for the US or England speaks volumes about the academy and its culture.
Lefèvre had a choice. He chose Montréal, and he chose Canada. He joins other Canadians like Tesho Akindele who were eligible to play elsewhere, but picked Canada in 2015, ending a decade long streak of defections and no-shows. If that's the reputation Wandoo brings to the Academy, the Impact and the national team, we're luckier than we think. Besides, it draws fans to the Impact when our players make it onto the national team.
So welcome to the family Wandoo. Hopefully the welcome basket includes a phone call from national team coach Benito Floro. You've put it all on the line for us. It's time we returned the favour.