French defender Hassoun Camara likes it so much in Montreal he has asked for permanent resident status in Canada.
“I filled in the forms to stay here,” he said Tuesday as the Impact returned to practice following their Major League Soccer season-opening victories in Seattle and Portland. “I feel 100 per cent like a Montrealer.
“I want to live here after football.”
Camara, 29, joined the Impact in 2011 in their final season in the North American Soccer League before making the jump to MLS last season.
The lanky right back is up for MLS goal of the week honours for his bicycle kick goal in a 2-1 victory in Portland on Sunday.
Camara had a moment of uncertainty at the end of last season when team president Joey Saputo did not include his name in a list of 11 players sure to be back for 2013.
But confirmation that the former SC Bastia and Olympique Marseile defender would be back came on Dec. 7. He appreciated the vote of confidence from sporting director Nick De Santis.
“I was always clear with Nick and Nick with me: I wanted to stay here,” said Camara.
He has shown it in his play on the pitch. A natural midfielder, he has played on defence since his arrival in Montreal, first in the central defence and then at right back when former Italian Serie-A defenders Alessandro Nesta and Matteo Ferrari joined the club last season.
With Jeb Brovsky on the left side, the back line allowed only one goal in two games on the west coast.
Coach Marco Schallibaum was impressed.
“We already knew that Nesta was very strong tactically and that Matteo never panics, but Hassoun and Jeb both had games that were faultless or close to it,” Schallibaum said. “They were really solid.”
The Impact play their home opener on Saturday against Toronto FC at Olympic Stadium, where more than 30,000 spectators are expected.
Midfielders Patrice Bernier, Andrea Pisanu and Justin Mapp all missed practice. Bernier was doing promotional work, while Pisanu worked off a muscle pull on a stationary bike on the sidelines and Mapp, who missed the game in Portland, was out with a calf injury.
Oft-injured defender Nelson Rivas will not be ready to practice with the team for another two to three weeks, Schallibaum said.