Saphir Taider - Montreal Impact - Clapping
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Saphir Taider continues to shine as Montreal Impact chase playoff berth

MONTREAL -- Saphir Taider was drawn to join the Montreal Impact as a Designated Player by a variety of reasons, none more important to him than the potential to win a championship.

Born in France, the Algerian international joined the Impact on loan from Italian side Bologna on Jan. 22.

Montreal appealed to Taider as a French-speaking city, he was drawn to the Impact by the vision of new head coach Remi Garde and team owner Joey Saputo, and he arrived with the stated goal of winning a championship.

Montreal have climbed up to sixth place in the Eastern Conference since losing 10 of their first 13 games this season.

“At the end of January, nobody knew each other,” Taider said after practice at Centre Nutrilait on Wednesday. “New players, a new staff, a new environment, a new way of working, so as a result it was not easy. I think after the challenging first two months of the season we were able to hold our heads high and now we know each other better. We’re working together better and better, we know what the coach wants, what he shows us in training is being reflected in our play, that shows and the results are there.”

The 26-year-old midfielder has six goals and six assists in 28 starts in his first MLS season.

“The first time I saw him, he’s a guy that has no fear,” Impact midfielder Samuel Piette said. “You could see he played in big teams and he has a lot of experience, even if he’s young. He’s a guy who always wants to get on the ball, even in the dangerous positions or the positions where you normally feel less comfortable. He likes to defend and attack. I think he’s the guy that runs the most on the team so he can participate a lot in winning balls.

“We can see this year he has a lot of goals and assists, so he’s participating as well offensively. He’s got a good shot. I mean he hasn’t scored a screamer so far but he’s had a couple of good shots. He’s not an individual player, he likes to make plays [to] the others. Obviously we have Nacho [Piatti]  so he looks for him. He looks for the strength of the team and tries to play on that. He doesn’t really have weaknesses, to be honest. He’s a very complete player.”

The travel in MLS as well as flying from North America across the Atlantic Ocean to represent his country have been a challenge as Taider adapts to an environment that is “completely different.”

“I played seven or eight seasons in Serie A in Italy and I was developed in France, so the football is not the same, the culture is not the same,” Taider said. “But I think MLS is a championship that hasn’t stopped growing. Season after season you see that the level is really good, the infrastructures are perfect, the championship is well-organized, demanding, and the league is very strong.

“So when I speak to friends who play football in Europe there are many who would like to come here, and that bodes well for the league.”

In addition to Taider’s abilities on the pitch, Piette has been impressed by the way he carries himself.

Taider joined the Impact after playing six-and-a-half years in Serie A

“He’s a top guy,” Piette said. “I was surprised because sometimes you get some DPs that come here and they take for granted that it will be easy and they won’t work hard and all this, but that was not the case with this guy. He’s very nice, very kind, very calm. He’s one of my good friends on the team. Obviously he speaks French so that helps for him because we have a lot of French speakers on the staff as well.”

In addition to playing in a French environment, Taider has enjoyed an opportunity to connect with his roots.

“It’s true that here in Montreal there are a whole lot of Algerians, a very big community,” he said. “And whether it’s at the stadium, on the street or taking a taxi, I meet a lot of them. So I really enjoy that, and they do too, to see an Algerian player here in Montreal, and that makes me happy.”

For his part, Piette is happy to be teamed up with Taider in the Impact midfield.

“I play behind him as a No. 6 so I feel together we make a very good duo,” Piette said. “You know, I’m more working on the defensive side and try to win balls. And every time I get the ball I look for him because I know he has quality to bring the ball on top. He works as well to win the ball sometimes but I think he’s more focused on the offensive part because I’m more concerned about the defensive part so I think we’re very complementary to each other and it’s been working pretty good this season.”

Montreal have posted a 9-4-3 record in 16 games since June 2. As a result, Taider can still focus on his stated goal of winning with the Impact.

“The more you win, the more confident you feel,” Taider said. “Obviously that comes with the results, but most of all we had the right approach, even when things weren’t going well. That’s what allowed us to pick ourselves up. If not, we’d be at rock bottom. We’re confident but we still have a lot of work to do. There are five games remaining and we have to give it our all so that we have no regrets.”