MONTREAL – Stade Saputo sang a Québécois happy birthday song to Patrice Bernier on his 36th birthday Wednesday:
Mon cher Patrice
C’est à ton tour
De te laisser parler d’amour…
Loosely translated, it goes: ‘Dear Patrice, it’s your turn to be given some love.’ The Ultras Montréal supporters group displayed a banner during the song, omitting the last line. “Dear Patrice, it’s your turn...” to play?
Indeed, it was. Many Impact supporters, the Ultras Montréal included, have felt that Bernier deserved to play more. Before Wednesday, he’d only played 340 minutes this season in MLS, down from 1,609 at the same point last season. And while he had been nursing plantar fasciitis of late, injuries weren’t the whole story.
On his birthday, Bernier returned. He came on as a sub in the 62nd minute and delivered a beautiful assist for Andres Romero to score the winner – and remove his jersey, not knowing that a yellow card would get him suspended – as Montreal beat the Chicago Fire, 2-1.
“This is a special day,” Bernier told reporters postgame. “Playing on your birthday, winning, three points, moving forward, delivering an assist. You can’t ask for more. I have to thank the fans, because the birthday song was heartwarming. But we won. That’s good. It’s a special day. I can go home and sleep well.”
Interim head coach Mauro Biello, in both French and English, praised Bernier’s work in using his experience to “stabilize the midfield” as the game seemed to tip in Chicago’s favor.
Good words for Bernier came from inside the locker room, too. In midfield, Bernier joined Nigel Reo-Coker, who spoke of an admiration for the team captain dating back many years.
“He’s a great football player,” Reo-Coker said. “People don’t get to see that much what he does behind closed doors for this team, and what the club means to him. He’s so passionate about this club. He loves this club. He gives it his all. He trains well. He’s done everything he can.
“He’s a fantastic character in the dressing room. He’s a great human being. He is what Montreal Impact is about.”
And the Montreal Impact, Biello said in his press conference, is a family. That family has also rallied behind Nacho Piatti, who flew back to Argentina before the game to be with his father, who is gravely ill.
He, too, was given some love.
“This win, we dedicate to Nacho’s father, who’s in a tough place today,” Didier Drogba said. “This one was for him.”