MONTREAL – Major League Soccer is feeling the Italian love.
The league's growing reputation in Italy seemingly convinced Bologna forward Daniele Paponi that crossing the Atlantic Ocean for a 10-day trial with the Montreal Impact was a decent idea. After his first training session with the team on Thursday, the 24-year-old told reporters that the MLS name was looked upon with increasing admiration in his home country.
“MLS has a good reputation in Italy, especially after so many important players, including members of this team here, came to North America over the past few years,” Paponi said through an interpreter. “This is a new adventure that I wanted to experience at all costs.”
A new adventure, indeed, as Paponi denied reports stating that he had gone on trial with the Chicago Fire in the summer of 2012.
“There were contacts, but only through a third party,” he said. “No direct contacts happened.”
Paponi, who can play every position up front, has barely played for Bologna in recent months. He has made only three substitute appearances in Serie A, totaling 46 minutes, this season under Stefano Pioli. He was handed his last start on December 19 in a Coppa Italia win over Napoli. Paponi also scored the only goal in Bologna’s 1-0 win over the Montreal Impact on November 8.
In his quest for playing time, Paponi will catch up with some familiar faces among the aforementioned "important players," primarily his former captain at Bologna, Marco Di Vaio. The veteran described Paponi as a very good player whose style differs from his own and from that of understudy Andrew Wenger. Paponi only hopes that he can live up to Di Vaio’s good words over the next 10 days.
“Marco told me he really enjoyed his experience here, the city and the team,” Paponi recalled. “He and I had a good relationship in Bologna, and hopefully, it’ll carry on here.
“I really want to settle here. I want to play. I enjoy Canada and I want to stay here.”