MONTREAL — New Montreal Impact Designated Player Hernán Bernardello had company for his introductory press conference: Spanish central defender Adrián López Rodríguez, who joined Bernardello and Impact sporting director Nick De Santis on stage at Stade Saputo on Friday morning about an hour after his signing from Wigan Athletic was announced.
The two 26-year-old players discussed a number of topics about their respective arrivals to the Impact and MLS, and both Bernardello and López stated that they are not looking at the league as a springboard back to Europe. In fact, they were adamant about not viewing things that way.
"I come to MLS to stay in MLS," said López, whose nickname is Piscu. "I'm not thinking about going to back to Europe. The MLS project is going to be amazing. From my point of view, in a few years, MLS will be in the top leagues. That's why I'm looking forward to staying here and to belong to a league that's going to be one of the best in the world."
Bernardello, who former Almería teammate and current Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri encouraged to come to MLS, agreed.
"The league is growing well," Bernardello said. "More and more quality players are developing and coming here. I'm really happy to be here. It's an important challenge."
De Santis was beaming as he mentioned that his new recruits' personalities would ensure a seamless adaptation to the squad. He again described Bernardello as a passionate, hungry player and introduced López as an intelligent center back who anticipates the game well and whose quality ball work will help the team build from the back.
Meanwhile, Colombian defender Nelson Rivas looks no closer to returning to the field for the Impact. The 30-year-old, who was Montreal's first MLS signing, hasn't played since September 15, 2012. He underwent surgery to fix a microfracture in his left knee last fall, but still feels pain to this day despite the lack of apparent damage.
"We want him to recuperate well, but we have to find the problem, for there are complications," De Santis said. "That's what's tough at the moment. He's 30, so there's still a lot of soccer left in him. What's important is that we find a solution to his problem and that he heals. But it was important for us, with the games piling up, to find another player who can keep stabilizing our defense."