ORLANDO, Fla. – Nearly a half-hour into his Montreal Impact debut, trialist Bernardo Corradi was kicked hard and stayed on the ground for a few minutes clutching his left knee.
With Impact players imploring the referee to stop play, the concern for Corradi grew.
“Sometimes you receive a kick is good because you can breathe,” the Italian forward told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “I was breathing.”
The experienced ex-Serie A forward was merely buying himself a few minutes of respite in his first match after a long layoff. Corradi came on to start the second half as Montreal defeated Swedish side BK Hacken 1-0 in a Saturday morning exhibition at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
“It was a hard game. It was hot and humid,” Corradi said. “Not playing a real game since eight months is not very easy, but I tried to do my best.”
The soon-to-be 36-year-old featured prominently in the final result, flicking a ball to 38-year-old Eduardo Sebrango who scored the game-winner 16 minutes after the break.
It was an expert play by Corradi, who showed off his nearly 20 years of European experience with more than just a few smooth touches and smart runs on Saturday.
“It was nice,” Corradi said. “I start to feel again the sensation to be part of a squad. It’s nice. The atmosphere with the guys is nice. They treat me like I’ve been here for 10 months.”
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At one point Corradi ran over to the sidelines to ask for a water bottle. Not to drink but to spray on his boots. “My feet are on fire,” he told a smiling Impact bench.
“He’s got a personality and he’s a competitor,” said manager Jesse Marsch. “With both him and Matteo [Ferrari], it’s nice to see guys who come to this league and come from very big places but don’t think they’re so much above everyone else. … There’s no pretense. They say this is the how the game’s supposed to be played and that’s what I’m about and I thought Bernardo brought that today and helped us.”
Despite the positive feelings, it’s still early days to say whether Corradi lands an MLS contract. Although he spent the summer of 2011 in preseason with Serie A club Udinese, he has not been affiliated with a club, spending recent months training with lower division Italian teams.
He spent the last two months training with Ferrari, who recently signed a deal with the Impact. Ferrari played a major role in helping Corradi get the invite to Montreal.
“With Bernardo we’re going to take some time to get him fit and get him going and now just get him time to show what he’s about,” Marsch said, indicating it would be unlikely that any deal would have Corradi ready for First Kick against Vancouver next Saturday.
“I don’t know maybe at the end of next week we’ll decide together. No pressure,” Corradi said. “The best part of this experience is that I don’t have any pressure. I can be part of the team or I can go back home and start supporting Montreal. It’s not a problem for me.”