MONTREAL – Midfielder Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé is happy. The Montreal Impact are happy. Chances are Canada head coach Benito Floro is happy, as well.
It’s all thanks to Gagnon-Laparé’s signing Thursday to a Homegrown Player contract with the Impact.
The 19-year-old’s path to the Impact first team was atypical. He became a full Canadian international 10 months before finally turning pro when the Impact made him their sixth Homegrown Player signing. And Floro was eager for Montreal to do so, Gagnon-Laparé said.
“He knew I was training a lot with the team, but he was hoping that I’d make that last step for my confidence and so I could have even more quality games,” Gagnon-Laparé told reporters on Thursday. “So, the next time – if I get more chances with the national team – I’ll have a bit more credentials than at the last camps.”
A member of the Montreal Impact Academy since his U-18 days, Gagnon-Laparé progressed to training with the first team regularly after getting an invitation to the 2014 pro training camp. By that point, he’d won two senior caps for Canada against Mauritania.
He doubled that tally in May and even played on the defensive line for Floro, with whom he enjoys “a very good relationship that’s only getting started.”
The question then was not if, but when he’d sign with the Montreal first team. But a pro deal would have kept Gagnon-Laparé from playing with the Impact’s U-23 team, which would have robbed him of valuable playing time in the early months of 2014.
“It certainly will be an adaptation,” Gagnon-Laparé said. “But if they felt it was time for me to sign, I think they probably want to make me play. Of course, there’ll be moments when it’s somewhat less easy or something less of a given than when I was with the U-23s, but then again, it’s a learning experience. It’s the road to follow. Once you get a chance, take it.”
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Down to earth and articulate, Gagnon-Laparé looks ready to seize opportunities. There just happens to have been changes in midfield where he’s most comfortable, with Collen Warner and Hernan Bernardello leaving. But even that, assistant coach Mauro Biello said, wasn’t a factor in offering Gagnon-Laparé a deal.
“I’m very proud of him,” Biello said. “He’s starting his career with us, and we’re very happy. He’s done well with us, even in Reserve League matches. He stood out. He’s shown that he has this ability and will to get to the next level. Now he’s with us. He’s a youngster that will help us this year and in the future.”