Impact's Bernier heating up, honored by fans, captaincy
MONTREAL – Patrice Bernier is the man of the hour right now in Montreal, and no one's loving it more than the Impact supporters.
With his penalty-kick conversion – his third of 2012 – in the Impact’s spectacular come-from-behind win against the Columbus Crew on Sunday, Bernier has become Montreal's top scorer – and top assist-provider alongside Felipe Martins – with five goals and five assists.
“It’s going well, I can’t complain,” Bernier told reporters in the Impact locker room after Sunday’s game. “Statistically, I think it’s my best season yet as far as goals and assists go. I keep on working well. I try to push myself to stimulate the others, so that we can maintain our rhythm all season.”
Even two months ago, things weren't going quite as smoothly, though. From April 4 to May 19, Bernier was only on the field for a total of 107 minutes for the Impact's eight games – that’s 40 percent of their 20 outings so far this season.
WATCH: Bernier buries PK, sinks Columbus
Post-May 19, however, he played all but one of the Impact’s eight games as head coach Jesse Marsch switched from a 4-4-2 formation to a 4-2-3-1. The Brossard, Québec, native has been running riot with Collen Warner and Felipe in the center of the park since then, picking up four of his five goals and every single one of his five assists in that time period.
It appears that playing three central midfielders is not the only catalyst for Bernier’s latest feats. The opening of the renovated Stade Saputo also inspired the Impact’s No. 8, who has collected half of his tally at the club’s new home.
And as fate would have it, Bernier was given the skipper’s armband for the Impact’s home win over Columbus, which was a special occasion for supporters group Ultras Montréal. In celebration of their tenth anniversary, the group unfurled their biggest tifo display ever and presented Bernier with an armband designed by one of their members.
“As vice captain, I stepped up in Davy's absence, and I was proud to do so at home,” Bernier said. “Unveiling the Ultras' special armband made the timing that much greater. I can’t complain, it’s an honor to wear this, especially as we put a win in our bag.”
The next step, as far as most Montreal supporters are concerned, is for Bernier to make it to the MLS All-Star Game. The 32-year-old, however, was not among the shortlist of six potential Impact representatives, and the fans have been flooding the Twitter account of MLS Commissioner Don Garber, who will handpick two players to play against Chelsea, with one simple message:
Patrice Bernier is your man.