MONTREAL – As he commented on the Montreal Impact's Amway Canadian Championship final win on Wednesday night, head coach Frank Klopas saw a short, curly-headed figure lurking behind the media. He smiled.
“I was also happy – I know he’s in the background – for Felipe,” Klopas said.
Typical Felipe, avoiding the spotlight. Yet the goal he’d scored as a substitute, about half an hour before, had wrapped up a 2-1 aggregate win against Toronto FC, allowing most hearts inside Stade Saputo to beat at a slower pace at last.
Upon beating Joe Bendik in stoppage time, the now shirtless Felipe – referee David Gantar duly booked him – shared a hug with Klopas. It said more than just “Thanks for the opportunity, coach” or “Props for scoring that goal, young man.” Much more heartfelt than that, it suggested a genuine bond between the two.
“The coach has helped me a lot,” Felipe said afterwards. “He’s given me a lot of confidence. When the coach, the staff, your teammates give you the confidence to play on the field, it’s the most important thing.”
That field, it seems, is the place where Felipe can switch off from his day-to-day life. For Klopas, Felipe scoring that goal on Wednesday was all the more admirable given that “there’s a lot on his mind.”
It may be related to his imminent fatherhood. It may not be. Nobody other than his teammates, the coach and his family has to know what’s going on, Felipe said. But Klopas is impressed with how the 23-year-old has been dealing with this life-changing experience.
“When I was that young, I was definitely not as mature as he [is],” Klopas said. “If I had a kid coming my way, I would be, you know… But still, when he’s on the field, that’s where he can express himself the best. He was fantastic. I’m so happy for him and for the team today.”
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So was Felipe. But more so for the team than for himself.
“It’s a championship, you know,” Felipe said. “It’s the final. It’s important for us, for the club, to represent Canada well in this CONCACAF Champions League.”