Montreal defender Hassoun Camara
Montreal Impact/Pépé

Camara shakes off knock to anchor Montreal's defense

Twenty-two starts, two goals and one assist during the 2011 NASL season was what defender Hassoun Camara achieved to become the Montreal Impact’s MVP, making it an easy decision to sign him up as one of the first players on the club’s first-ever MLS roster.

However, he was also involved in one of the Impact’s first injury scares in MLS, when he injured his right ankle during training on Feb. 4.

The injury could have derailed the Frenchman’s preseason preparations. Camara had two options: Sit out or run it off. The latter option won.

“I’m glad I made that decision,” Camara told over the phone from Orlando, Fla. “I had trouble at first, with the swelling and all, and it still hurts a bit. But it was the right choice. I played the entire game on Wednesday [a 60-minute scrimmage against the United States U-20 national team] and it went well. I’m behind the other guys as far as physical preparation goes, obviously, but I’m working hard on that.”

Camara, who had been introduced to fans as a defensive midfielder last season, became a mainstay as a central defender due to injuries and transfers. He added an attacking instinct to the backline, often stepping out of defense to start moves forward. And thanks to head coach Jesse Marsch, Camara expects fans will see more of the same this year.

“We’ve got a coach who gives a lot of freedom to his players,” Camara said. “Having seen me play last season, he knows my qualities. Of course as a center back, my main duty is to defend, but Marsch does not prohibit me or anyone from helping out up front.”

Camara has played regularly during preseason, striking up a strong partnership with Shavar Thomas at the heart of Montreal’s defense. The 28-year-old has been enjoying his time on the pitch with the Jamaican international, whom he admits he didn’t know well at first. Yet both players’ professionalism, according to Camara, is the reason why they have been working so well together as they blend their styles.

Nevertheless, Camara insists he is ready to play with any one of the plethora of quality options Montreal has at center back, including Serie A veteran Nelson Rivas or newly signed Italian Matteo Ferrari.

“Playing alongside Ferrari or Rivas would be great,” Camara admitted.

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