MONTREAL – Calum Mallace’s rookie season has been one of adaptation.
In the earlier stages of 2012, the Montreal Impact attempted to convert their second-round SuperDraft pick – who they believed would be selected in the bottom half of the first round – into a right back. Mallace has a no-nonsense attitude and likes to get stuck in, yet his ball skills made the Impact sit up and take notice. It seemed like a good fit.
Over time, though, the progress the Marquette University alum has made got the staff to realize that his skills might be better used at his natural position: the center of the park.
“He's a competitor, and when he steps on the field in the reserve games, you see a confidence in him, and he's in the middle of a lot of different plays,” head coach Jesse Marsch said. “With the ball, without the ball, he’s clear in terms of what his role is, and he's still a guy that, in that spot on the field, can hit some shots and score some goals.”
Case in point: Mallace not only played all 90 minutes of the Impact’s 1-0 Reserve League win over D.C. United last Friday, he also settled it. As the clock struck 87, the 22-year-old’s tenacity got the better of his marker and he unleashed a shot at the far post that beat United ‘keeper Joe Willis.
“I try and take what I learn in training and put it in the games that I get, which are the reserve games,” Mallace explained. “I think I played well individually, but I think the team played well and I’m just glad that we could win as a team. Hopefully we’ll end up winning the Reserve League.”
Mallace, the first professional soccer player out of Marquette, certainly hoped he could fight the odds and get a number of games with the first team. Ultimately, he has only played 45 minutes in a 3-0 loss away at D.C. United, but he feels he cannot complain.
“Now, playing in the middle with people like Patrice Bernier and stuff, it’s just unbelievable, learning from them,” Mallace said.
And, his coach says, he will keep on doing all of this – in Montreal.
“We’ve even had teams from other places inquire about him,” Marsch revealed. “And we’ve said, ‘No, we’re not letting him go because we feel good with the progress he’s made and we want to keep him here.’”