Matteo Mancosu goal celebration-VAN-MTL-3.4.18

MONTREAL — Montreal Impact striker Matteo Mancosu made a solid first impression on new coach Remi Garde before he was sidelined by a calf injury two games into the season.

“Matteo started well the season,” Garde said before training Thursday. “He worked so hard, very hard for him and for the team as well. You know I like this kind of behavior when you put the team as high as you put yourself, then he’s got his mentality.”

Mancosu, who has not played the past four games, scored six goals in 26 games, including 20 starts, last season. He scored in Montreal’s 2-1 season-opening loss in Vancouver on March 4 before he was sidelined.

“Unfortunately he got injured on the calf,” Garde said. “It took him out for a long while, and as he’s not so young now, when you are older than 30 you need to work harder to come back. It takes you a little more time, but now he’s getting back quite strong and I’m very pleased for him and for the team.”

The 33-year-old Mancosu may be ready to return for the Impact’s Stade Saputo opener against LAFC on Saturday (1 pm ET; TVAS — Full TV & streaming info). In his absence, Garde has primarily used Ignacio Piatti up top along with 20-year-old Jeisson Vargas, who leads Montreal with three goals.

The Impact’s leading scorer with four goals in five games during their MLS Cup playoff run in 2016, Mancosu has an approach to his position that drew a comparison to Paris St-Germain striker Edinson Cavani by Garde.

“He’s truly a No. 9, we can focus one or two defenders all the game and he’s very generous in his movement, “ Garde said. “He [reminds] me in France a player like Cavani, you know, he’s like always giving the best for the team, running everywhere and then sometimes missing a little bit of freshness in front of the goal to finishing, then sometimes a controversial player.

“But for a coach it’s very important to have this kind of player, very generous for the team, because in the long term a team needs people like that who sacrifice for running, not getting the ball, but open spaces behind for the player, and then it’s the alchemy for the team that are very important and Matteo can be very important for that.”