Nevio Pizzolitto's growing impact

Pizzolitto seems to have the scoring touch against the Rhinos: he’s come up with one of his two goals this season in a 1-0 win over Rochester, June 28 in Montreal, and got on the scoresheet (1 goal, 1 assist) in both games played last year in Rochester (1 win, 1 tie).

“I guess I must try to raise up my level of play, because you have to be sharp against a quality team like Rochester,” explains Pizzolitto.

“He’s contributing more and more on restarts in the other team’s box, getting at the end of a lot of balls and creating problems for the opponent,” says Impact head coach Nick De Santis. “Nevio is one of the most consistent players on the field.”

“He’s a excellent defender — according to me, among the best in the league,” says teammate Gabriel Gervais, who was the USL D1 Defender of the Year in 2003 and 2004, and a finalist in that category in 2005. “Last year, he would have deserved to be picked on the first All-League team (instead of the 2nd) and considered for Defender of the Year in the league — he was so consistent.”

“He may be underrated, but that’s because he’s humble — which is another one of his qualities,” says De Santis. “He’s a quiet leader.”

Pizzolitto is indeed a man of few words outside the playing field, and that may be why he has been overlooked for such a long time, even though he has been a member of the Impact since 1995. That is no longer the case this season, however, since he has reached several milestones in terms of career games and minutes played with Montreal, getting notably ahead of Club Builders Lloyd Barker and Patrick Diotte to find himself only behind Mauro Biello and Nick De Santis. In short, there is no longer any doubt that he has made his mark on the club’s history.

Pizzolitto himself needed a little time to realize how much of an impact he has had on the organization.

“When I was younger, my goal was simply to play, to perform on the field,” says the Montrealer who will turn 30 this August 26. “But with time and age, I realized I wanted to be more involved, that I wanted to do more.”

Pizzolitto isn’t as unassuming on the field. He and Gervais probably form the best pair of central defenders in the league, the nucleus of a defense that has been the best in the USL D1 — by far — for the last four seasons.

“We’ve been playing together since 2002 and each year we get to know each other a little bit better”, notes Gervais, who will miss a rare series against Rochester this week due to a groin injury. “You need good chemistry between central defenders, but that doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a long process. Now, we’re probably at our peak. We understand and complete each other well.”

“I cover him and he covers me, we do it on instinct now, which means that at the end of the day, the opposing forward always has to beat two defenders, not one,” notes Pizzolitto.