MONTREAL – When Sinisa Ubiparipovic received a pass from Lamar Neagle at the edge of the Toronto FC penalty area this past Saturday, the words “Remember me?” might as well have been flashing on the Olympic Stadium big screen.
The veteran added to his Montreal legend, scoring the Impact's opener 18 minutes in and marking his long-awaited return to the blue jersey.
Ubiparipovic could have made his first start earlier in the season, but an MCL injury he picked up in preseason in late February set the Bosnian back. That was pretty much the lone blotch on an otherwise spotless spring for the Bosnian, who was determined not to let it hinder his return to MLS too much.
“It’s been a frustrating three or four weeks,” Ubiparipovic told reporters following the Impact’s 2-1 defeat of Toronto FC. “I’ve been working hard to get my fitness back and whatnot. It just feels rewarding to get in there, I score a goal and the team wins. It’s a double bonus.”
Ubiparipovic had not taken part in MLS action since September 4, 2010, when Real Salt Lake defeated his former club, the New York Red Bulls.
That made his return this past Saturday doubly sweet. He hit the target on his return to MLS, and did so in Montreal, where supporters have already grown to love this elegant attacking midfielder. During the team’s 2011 season – its last in the second flight – Ubiparipovic led a furious late-season push for a playoff spot after being signed in the middle of the year.
The Impact eventually fell short of the NASL playoffs, but Ubiparipovic’s ability to both set up and score goals made him an instant hit and gave the fanbase a hero heading into their first MLS preseason.
It was a breath of fresh air to see the 28-year-old pick up where he’d left off. And he may have endeared himself even further to the Montreal faithful with his goal celebration. Upon scoring, Ubiparipovic immediately turned to the Toronto traveling fans and cheekily pointed to his ears.
“I heard them singing before the game, I had to give them a shout out,” Ubiparipovic said with a laugh. “It was too far for me to go the other way. I just had to be creative at that moment.”
GOAL: Ubiparipovic puts the Impact ahead