MONTREAL – Over the past two games, Calum Mallace has already visibly grown as a player, more than quadrupling the amount of minutes he had clocked in coming into the Houston game. That's not to say, however, that the time he spent either on the bench or in the stands was wasted.
Learning through watching your teammates is part of any rookie’s day-to-day activities, and Mallace was told to focus on someone in particular from the start. Someone who turned out to be a good teacher and one of the Impact’s top players this season.
“In the dressing room, the first day I came in, they said, 'If you want to become a player yourself in this league, you want to base yourself on the stuff Patrice [Bernier] does,'” Mallace told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday.
A shy smile crossed Bernier's face when Mallace’s flattering words were put to him on Friday morning. Mallace, he feels, has gained a great amount of confidence in recent weeks as minutes on the field translated into improvement. He'll likely get a chance to build on that progress again against New England on Saturday (2 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“There’s nowhere for him to go but up,” Bernier said. “He has a great will to compete, he’s good going forward, he’s got a good shot too. At his age, he’ll keep learning and making progress.”
The first-year midfielder has impressed the Montreal faithful since he filled in – on short notice – for the injured Felipe in the 1-1 draw in Houston three weeks ago. Montreal have since picked up another good road point, and Mallace has, at times, displayed Bernier-like composure and ingenuity with the ball.
And with good reason: the 22-year-old pointed out how Bernier has helped him transition from watching from the bench or the stands to actually plying his trade alongside him.
“I was kind of watching him in the middle, learning,” Mallace explained. “Being in a game, playing with him, with the experience he has, it makes it almost easier in the middle.”
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