TORONTO – After a slow start in his first go-around in MLS, Patrice Bernier has emerged as a crucial component for a Montreal Impact team that’s in the running for a playoff spot in its inaugural season. His play has also earned him a recall to the Canadian national team for two vital World Cup qualifiers against Panama.
The Brossard, Quebec, native has led the Impact with nine goals and is second in assists with eight. But Bernier, whose three goals and three assists clinched him MLS Player of the Month honors for August, says his role with the national team will be a bit different.
“It’s not my responsibility to score, I play in the midfield,” Bernier said after training at BMO Field on Wednesday ahead of Friday's match vs. Panama (7:30 pm ET, Sportsnet). “Hopefully I can bring that form onto the pitch and help the team offensively – scoring or assists, too. But we’ve got a lot of elements in front that want to score and we just have to create those chances and make sure we’re efficient.”
Bernier wasn’t a part of the squad in June that earned four points and put Canada in second place in the group. It could easily have been six points had it not been for some shoddy finishing, but Bernier feels that even a single goal could turn Canada’s offense around.
“With the last games, I’ve seen we’ve had the chances,” he said. “We just didn’t put them in at the end. We just have to be clinical in front of goal. We’ve done everything well except for that final third. It was the same problem at the beginning of the season in Montreal. We created a lot of chances and didn’t score, and suddenly we’ve been scoring two or three goals a game.”
Six of Bernier’s goals this season have come off of penalties, and he has yet to miss from the spot. If the opportunity arises for Les Rouges, however, don’t look for him to immediately take charge.
“There are a lot of guys that want to take penalties,” he said, “but I know that things are going well so I guess maybe I’ll be first up.”