CHESTER, Pa. — Blerim Dzemaili may have stolen most of the headlines for the Montreal Impact by bagging a brace in Saturday’s 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Union.
But midfielder Samuel Piette played just as pivotal a role in an MLS debut to remember.
“It was good, especially with the win,” Piette said. “It was a cherry on the sundae. It was perfect.”
Acquired on Aug. 3 in a transfer from Spanish club CD Izarra, the 22-year-old Canadian international immediately showed what he can do as a central midfielder, helping the Impact win the possession battle on the road while stifling Philly’s offensive chances.
“He played really well,” veteran midfielder Patrice Bernier said. “He recovers. He doesn’t lose the ball. He also broke down a lot of plays, where usually in the past it would have been counter attacks. He was able to make the right tackle to allow us to keep possession.
“He’s a young player and has the type of profile I think we didn’t have in the past. And he’s a lot younger so he allows us older guys to have a breather a bit.”
Piette displayed poise and maturity beyond his years in a difficult road environment Saturday.
Afterward, the midfielder said he was “excited to see the GPS” to find out how much distance he covered on a busy night on the pitch. And considering how little time he had to prepare with his new teammates, Mauro Biello felt it was about as good of a debut as he could have asked for.
“It was excellent,” Biello said. “He was able to break up plays, able to be simple. He protected the back four but on the ball he was excellent. He was driving through the middle, finding good outlets all game long. I’m proud of him and we’re happy to have him.”
Piette credited his recent run at the Gold Cup — he played all 360 minutes in Canada’s run to the quarterfinals — as a big factor in keeping him fit and sharp. And chemistry didn’t appear to be a problem at all as the Quebec native looked right at home in the Montreal midfield — just in time, perhaps, to help the Impact to make a run at the playoffs.
“I’m a guy that adapts well to any team,” he said. “The guys have been great. It’s been easy for me to settle in.”