The Montreal Impact’s preseason training camp in Orlando, Fla., has been physically demanding. And if their 1-1 draw against the Houston Dynamo in Wednesday’s match at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic is any indication, the work they’ve put in has paid off handsomely.
“That game was our very best yet,” Bernier told MLSsoccer.com by phone from Orlando. “We should have won comfortably. … We learned good lessons from the defeat to Vancouver which, it is fair to say, was our worst game this preseason. Then the second game [against Sporting Kansas City] was a good opportunity to rotate the squad, and while there was a slight lack of fluidity, 1-1 was a good result.”
Montreal pressured constantly throughout their match against Houston, keeping the Dynamo mostly at bay. But given who’s running the show, that shouldn’t surprise anyone.
“[Impact head coach] Jesse Marsch knows this league, he knows how demanding it is physically,” Bernier said. “He has told us how important it is to put pressure on opponents, to win aerial duels, and I think the way we played 90 minutes two days ago shows that.”
Even beyond the showing against Houston, the 32-year-old has also been encouraged by the performances of the younger players in the squad who have had to adapt to new surroundings and new ways of playing.
“[Calum] Mallace impressed me,” Bernier said. “He was drafted as a midfielder, but it appears he’ll move to fullback. I think he’s been adapting well. It’s a big deal, you know, coming out of college and playing pro right away. It’s the same situation with Andrew Wenger. We know how versatile he is, but he has to make one position his own. It’s hard work.”
With their first game as an organization just eight days away, speculation is rife among fans over who will be in the Impact’s lineup at Vancouver’s BC Place. Bernier won’t speak for Marsch, but he feels the staff already has a clear idea of who will take the field, and the return of players like Sanna Nyassi, Justin Mapp and Zarek Valentin will only make the task of selection easier.
And, Marsch’s decision aside, Bernier already has a pretty good idea of who he should be playing with in the center of the park.
“It’s been going good with Felipe [Martins],” the Brossard, Quebec, native said. “We’re combining well, and it’s getting even better.”