MONTREAL — The Montreal Impact were on a good run of form until the coronavirus pandemic brought the season to a halt.
Midfielder Samuel Piette was enjoying a new triangular partnership with Saphir Taider and the Impact’s new Designated Player signing Victor Wanyama before the worsening public health situation forced Major League Soccer, the Concacaf Champions League and nearly all leagues around the globe to suspend competition.
And while Piette accepted and understood the decision, he was frustrated to have to break just as he felt his club were building momentum, unbeaten in two league matches while reaching the CCL quarterfinals.
Gros effort de tous aujourd’hui pour allez chercher ce gros résultat à la maison! 💪🏼 Encore un gros merci aux partisans qui ont répondu présent aujourd’hui 👏🏼 Pas mal comme semaine! 👌🏼 #IMFC pic.twitter.com/p4CzdLc9pv— Samuel Piette (@samuelpiette) March 1, 2020
“Obviously everything stopped and I feel like it was a really bad moment for us because despite the injuries we were on a good run,” Piette told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s a bad timing for us, any for everybody really, but because of the form that we had it was a bit difficult to accept because we don’t know how far we could’ve gone.”
Just how long that break would last wasn't immediately clear either, he says. Major League Soccer initially announced it would suspend its season for at least a month, then stretched that hiatus to May 10 based on guidelines coming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most recently, the league stretched its moratorium on teams training together through April 3.
“It was a new situation that we’ve never faced before,” Piette said. “At first, we all thought that it was going to be a matter of a couple of days, not weeks or months. So it’s all brand new for us. We’re still living day to day.
“It’s weird to train on your own, it feels like it’s an offseason again where preseason is getting closer and you’ve got to keep in shape.”
For Piette, the toughest part is to keep the squad’s togetherness.
“Yes, we can train and maintain our levels of fitness but it’s that togetherness that is tough to work on when you’re separate from each other,” he said. “I think that because it's a pretty new situation, people are more concerned with staying home and taking care of their families first.”
Petit message concernant les mesures à prendre face au COVID-19. Progagez l’info, pas le virus! pic.twitter.com/f4hNBdf6gT— Samuel Piette (@samuelpiette) March 17, 2020
Piette has turned some of that energy toward social media outreach to educate the public on the dangers of the coronavirus threat.
Premier Francois Legault, Quebec’s political leader, called upon influencers and athletes to spread awareness on social media. Legault wanted help to reach Quebec’s younger audience and Piette tried to do that on his took to his social media accounts.
“I feel like it was my duty to do so,” Piette said. “I feel like I have a reach and it was my responsibility to do so. I got great feedback, people really appreciated the gesture and it was a very simple one for me. If I can do something on my part to help the situation, I will do so.”