MONTREAL — The 2012 Montreal Impact continue to take shape as the club announced on Tuesday that it has signed its 2011 team MVP, Hassoun Camara.
The Frenchman becomes the first player from the Impact’s 2011 NASL roster to join the team in MLS, and the second official signing after Colombian defender Nelson Rivas signed last week.
“I am proud and very satisfied to be a part of the team’s project for 2012,” Camara said in a press conference at Stade Saputo on Tuesday. “I want to build on last season's good performances and can’t wait to join this new league.”
The 27-year-old midfielder, who did not participate in last week’s evaluation camp due to a thigh injury, explained that he has been in talks with head coach Jesse Marsch during the season. However, serious discussions only began last week with the coach and technical staff, with Marsch finally gave Camara the good news on Monday.
“He congratulated me,” Camara said. “It’s very inspiring, especially coming from such an experienced MLS player like Jesse. He’s played 14 season in this league and I’m looking forward to learning a lot from him.”
Having started his career in France as a defender before becoming a holding midfielder, Camara returned to his natural position with the Impact this past season, contributing along the way to his team’s solid defensive record of conceding less than a goal a game. But he understands the level of performances he needs to put in this season will be even more demanding.
“I am not guaranteed a starting role next season,” he said. “It’s up to the coach to decide. I will need to compete and will be available for the team, whether it’s as a central defender or as a defensive midfielder.”
Despite being just the second signing made by Montreal, Camara confessed he doesn't know much about the league, but understands his team’s ambitions and will be looking to improve his play.
“It’s hard to predict where we’ll be in the league next season,” he admitted. “The club has already shown a lot of ambition for 2012 and we will be able to compete with the best teams in this league. It’s up to us to build this team, from the ground up. On a personal level, I want to keep improving physically and technically.”
Camara added that he's already had a few discussions with former Inter Milan defender Rivas, whom the Impact announced as their first MLS signing last week. The language barrier has made it hard for both players to talk much, though, but Camara believes that he can develop a good partnership with the Colombian where it matters most.
“He is an experienced player, who’s evolved in the biggest leagues and alongside the biggest names in soccer,” Camara said. “It wasn’t easy since I’m not very good in Spanish, but I’m sure we’ll be able to understand each other on the pitch.”
The Impact's 2011 Player of the year also admitted that he has enjoyed the past season with his Montreal teammates, some of whom he is not sure will be joining him and Montreal in their first MLS season in 2012.
“It’s a weird feeling,” admitted Camara. “I’ve become friends with my teammates this season, and it won’t be easy to see some of them leave. I guess it’s part of the sport, soccer can bring you happiness but also disappointment.”
Camara will now take a few weeks to return to France to spend some time with family before returning to Montreal for preseason camp in January.