MONTREAL – It is somewhat hard to believe that a mere two months ago, center back Matteo Ferrari had not officially joined the Montreal Impact.
The Italian Serie A veteran, who signed with the club on March 1, has become one of the leaders on the team, playing every single minute of the eight games they have played so far with authority and gusto.
Ferrari admits to being pleasantly surprised with the remarkable number of minutes he has played, and even more so with his fitness despite a hectic start to his MLS career. But most of all, the 32-year-old center back has taken to the physical style of MLS like a fish to water.
“It’s physical in every way on the field,” Ferrari told reporters on Friday. “Forwards are physical. Defenders are physical. The referees don’t make some calls and they let us play a lot. And I like that. I prefer this than every contact leading to a fall.”
Ferrari will nevertheless enjoy his team’s weekend off, because he’s well aware there’s plenty of work ahead for the Impact. And most of that falls on how to finish a full 90-minute game,
“The games that we play away, I feel like sometimes, the other team thinks we are an inexperienced team. They think it’s easy to play against us,” Ferrari explained. “But after 45 minutes, they can see properly that it’s not so easy, and their mentality changes in the second half. It’s always like that. We have to be prepared for that, because the game is 90 minutes, not just 45.”
Ferrari, who was unexpectedly recruited during a scouting trip in Europe, has adapted extremely quickly to his new home, both soccer-wise and culturally. Greeting the French-language reporters with a soft “Bonjour” has become a habit, and Ferrari’s English is improving.
Head coach Jesse Marsch, who described Ferrari as having been “great on every level,” paid tribute to his efforts.
“He's been fantastic in terms of his approach to every day, to being here, to being a leader, to how he plays and fits within our team,” Marsch said. “I honestly can’t think of one bad thing to say about him because he’s been fantastic.”