By Jonathan Feldman
Nick DeSantis made over 200 appearances for the Montreal Impact and another nine with Canada. In his first season, he won the club its second league trophy. With a brand new stadium and rumors of a move to MLS, Nick DeSantis and his Impact are looking forward.
This week GP tries its hand at Quebecois and learns more about the buzz up north.
You made a trip to Portugal recently. How did it go?
Positive. We announced last week that the team will travel to Portugal for a pre-season tour this winter. We also stay two weeks in Italy. This tour shows once again that the club is continually progressing. It will be a great opportunity to measure ourselves against European players and to observe young local talents.
So much has been made of expansion in MLS, and Don Garber mentioned Montreal as a city theyíd love to expand. Clearly the Impact has a strong fan base. Does Canadian soccer need Montreal in the top-flight?
We always wanted the best for the club. With the new stadium itís normal to have higher goals. Yes, we are looking at the MLS option but before taking a decision we have to make sure we are doing the right thing, if we are going to the MLS or if we are staying in the USL D1.
Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver formed an alliance to help develop the game in Canada. Is this alliance starting to bear fruit?
Yes, the three teams have developed a club structure. Here in Montreal, we have the Trois-RiviŤres Attak, our reserve team, which has done great in its first season in the Canadian Soccer League. But the alliance was created in October so weíll have to wait for the results.
"The mentality is changing and time will help."
Have the soccer associations in French Canada received some support from the French football community as we have seen with English players and coaches arriving the U.K. to the U.S.?
We didnít receive help so far but maybe in the future. We have a great relationship with Quebec Soccer Federation and they have a relationship with FC Metz. So of course we would like to do the same in the future.
Canadian fans seem to be a bit more supportive of professional soccer than American fans. Your thoughts?
I donít think so because the US has great support. They are doing very good on the international level and even with youth. Soccer is the most popular sport here but there are great soccer fans in US too. They are trying to supply with the best soccer possible.
Does this work to Canadaís advantage?
The US is ahead of us in terms of progression as a nation, at the international level but also at the youth level. Maybe in a bit more time we will be at the same level. The mentality is changing and time will help.
Your favorite moment as a coach?
The 2004 championship
As a player?
Itís the 1994 championship, the first in club history. But also the Youth World Cup in 1987.
What do you think about the talk of West Ham bringing an academy to the USL First Division?
For now itís only talk. Itís always great when an international club with tradition wants to help soccer in North America, but for now itís only talks.
If you had to pick the best young player coming up through the ranks in Montreal?
Alex Surprenant. He is 17. He is a left back with great potential and a bright future in front of him.
Does this team have a realistic shot of winning the league next season?
The goals are always very high. And once again this year, the objective is to win a championship.We need a couple additions to improve the team, maybe one forward and one midfielder.