MONTREAL – It all came good for San Lorenzo.
Supporters of the Argentine club were mostly outraged when star midfielder Ignacio Piatti had to leave this week before the second leg of their Copa Libertadores final against Nacional with the aggregate score at 1-1. The transfer window had closed, however, and that meant Piatti was now a Designated Player for the Montreal Impact.
But San Lorenzo triumphed anyway on Wednesday night, winning 1-0 at home to capture their first Libertadores title. And a cheerful Piatti met his new teammates and the Montreal media on Thursday at Stade Saputo.
“I’m very happy that San Lorenzo won the Copa Libertadores,” Piatti told reporters. “It was a dream that has finally come true. I saw the game last night and congratulated my teammates.
“But now, I’m here in Montreal, and I want to do everything so the team goes well.”
Impact head coach Frank Klopas said he was “extremely pleased" that the day had finally come. Bringing in someone from a team that has just been crowned champion will bring, he said, “a different kind of belief, which I think lifts everyone.”
“He’s definitely going to bring a lot of quality, but everyone else around him has to step up and contribute to the team effort,” Klopas added.
Piatti’s new teammates were glad to train with him for the first time.
“He’ll do something important for this club,” fellow DP Marco Di Vaio told reporters. “I think we’ve made a good transfer with him. He can do something important. He’s shown he’s got personality. He chose No. 10, and everyone in Montreal’s been waiting for a No. 10.”
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Replied Piatti: “I’m really quiet. I chose No. 10 because I like it, and it’s one that I’ve never worn.”
The 29-year-old signed a three-and-a-half-year deal in MLS after a fine Libertadores campaign in which he scored three goals from left midfield. Klopas, who said earlier this week that Piatti would get minutes on Saturday against Chicago (6:30 pm ET; MLS Live, TSN2 in Canada), expects him to be equally comfortable playing wide or underneath the striker in Montreal.
Along with televised games in Argentina, conversations with MLS-experienced friends convinced Piatti to move north.
“It’s a league that's growing,” Piatti said. “I like the league, and I thank the club for allowing me to play here and to [former Impact sporting director] Nick De Santis who came to see me more than a year ago.”
The contribution by De Santis, who was let go as sporting director last month but did watch Piatti’s first training session in the Impact blue, wasn’t forgotten by Klopas either.
“It goes without saying that the hard work that Nick put into this, it’s been over two years,” Klopas said. “The amount of travel, the focus and dedication, even when I came, we watched tapes and stuff.
"So it’s a guy that we’ve put a lot of work – and Nick put a lot of work into to make sure that not only he’s a quality player on the field but a guy that fits in within the philosophy of the organization here.”