Despite some outrage over the new name, the spirit of the team seems to be better than ever. "You'll see a team giving everything that they have for the club," he said.
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MTL Blog had a chat with the CF Montréal player to discuss the upcoming season, playing pandemic soccer, and the team's feelings about the new name.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
What’s it like playing in Europe versus playing in front of your hometown fans in Montreal?
We're lucky to have a good fan base where the fans are really into soccer and they're coming out every game to support us in good and bad moments.
It's a bit the same way in Europe, but it's obviously a lot better for me to be here in Montreal and be able to play with my friends and having my family coming out to the stadium and having people that I love watching me play live instead of on TV.
I haven't played a big club like Manchester United or clubs like that. But, for me, playing in your hometown, you get the best of both worlds here as a professional soccer player. You're doing what you love in your hometown, you're able to see your friends, your family. For me, that's a dream come true, for sure.
With the pandemic, fans aren’t there anymore. How much does this take away from the game in your opinion?
I think it takes a lot, honestly, not having the crowd cheering for you or the other team. They give you the extra push in the game to either keep the win or when you need to actually push to get the goal. It's obviously something that we really miss.
It's really disappointing, obviously, because now we're not allowed to be able to play here in Montreal. It's weird because when you play away, people say, "normally at home, you win and when you play away, you lose." But it's just a stadium, you know. But when you play an entire season away from home, you really feel it. We really miss it.
When we played our first game with no fans, it just felt like it was still a preseason game. There are no fans, and you hear each other really well, you hear the coaches and stuff like that. It was tough at first to get that into that mentality of "okay, yeah, this is the real deal."
For me, it doesn't really play on my focus, because I know when it's game time, you know? But I think I'm missing a little bit of that excitement when I know there are 20,000 or even more fans cheering for your team.
How did you feel about the new team name and about all the hate towards the new name?
At first, it was a surprise to me because it's a big change. I played for the Impact and now I'm playing for the Club de Foot Montreal. It took time to adapt to it for us players. We can call it Impact, the Foot, whatever you want but we're playing for Montreal first and foremost.
I can understand people not liking the changes. There are die-hard fans that were shocked when the announcement was made. I think when the season will start, some fans that weren't really convinced about the changes will be.
At the end of the day, it's up to us, the players and the team to try to stick some success to that new name and new logo.
Though some people are a bit skeptical about that snowflake logo, it's a fact where we're the northernmost of all the teams in the league, it's the coldest place in the league, we get snow, so I think it's really in our identity. Let's not hide the fact that we have a shitload of snow here in Montreal and that it's part of our lives year over year. The hype behind the fact that people think it's stupid and all that, I don't agree.
What can we expect from CF Montréal this season?
We want to be a team that it's really hard to play against. We have a younger squad that's really ambitious, really aggressive, with a lot of energy. I think that's what you can expect from us. You'll see a team that is giving its best every game for the club, for the fans and for the city.