So it finally happened. Not that it was really a secret anyhow.
Montreal Impact unveiled their latest signing yesterday morning after training at Centre Nutrilait.
The 20-year-old Finn, Lassi Lappalainen, donned the #21 shirt for the customary press throng, spoke nervously in English, but showed character and presence of mind, even getting a laugh from his inquisitive audience.
“One of your former team-mates compared you to a Ferrari, very, very fast”
“Was it Jens?”
“Yeah [it was].”
“Well, yeah, I’m fast, but not like a Ferrari.”
“What type of car [are you like]?”
It was an obvious deference to the recent comments of a certain Swede and fellow Scandanavian.
Lappalainen will be with the Impact for the rest of this season, but there are options to extend the loan through June 20, 2020, and still further to 31 December, 2020.
His parting gift to his old team-mates back at HJK Helsinki was a brace of Champions’ League qualifying goals which helped sink opponents, HB Torshavn. They advanced, and lost their 2nd Round, 1st Leg game 0-2 in Belgrade two days ago against Crvena Zvezda.
He’s a tall slender forward who prefers to play on the left but is also comfortable on the right or in the middle. His pace is the attribute that most excites, although his touch on the ball is good too. He likes to dribble.
“I’m very happy to be here. It’s been a nice five days here, training, a nice city, and ahhh ... I’m ready to work.”
Impact coach Remi Garde has remarked on some qualities he’s already recognized in the young player, now part of the Finland national team set-up, a program which also involves Impact’s Jukka Raitala, that’s achieved some positive results recently.
“There’s a maturity in his game that’s interesting, he’s smart.
”What’s also interesting is that he’s in high season, he’s ready to play. For understanding of what one tries to do [where he fits], it will take a little time,“ explained Garde.
Lappalainen has described the move to MLS as a step in the right direction, not the big leap it might have been had he gone from his native country straight to Serie A life at Bologna, although that remains his ultimate destination.
He also referred to ‘big brother’ Jukka, who’s been helping the new acquisition find his bearings around the city and travelling to training and so on. Lappalainen also described how his fellow Finn also helped ‘sell’ the club to the new recruit.
Garde alluded to his experimentation with some players playing in different roles during Wednesday night’s win over York9, and how those developments were tested with the new availability of Lappalainen in mind. It’s certain the young Finn will at least be on the bench, Saturday evening.
His new public will be keen to get their first glimpses of the youngster’s pace and abilities which prompted Bologna’s initial interest and attracted national team recognition at the relatively tender age of 20.