FC Montreal is back on the field and just played its first preseason game in preparation for its second season in USL.
Defender Zachary Sukunda and Janouk Charbonneau were the players with the most playing time in 2015, with 1939 and 1893 minutes respectively. They learned a lot from their first pro experience.
“You have to take care of your body because it’s a long season,” said Sukunda. “Playing 90 minutes in the USL is really different than playing 90 minutes in the USSDA where we play with the U16 and U18 teams. You have to be mentally and physically ready. This year, I know we can do well.”
“The level of play is much higher than what most of the players were used too in the USSDA,” explained Charbonneau. “It’s a normal process to reach the highest level, which is MLS. It was a difficult process for everyone at first, but after a few games, we saw that we could compete with the other teams.”
Once again this year, the technical staff will be able to count on a majority of players coming from the Impact Academy, mixing them with a group of players who played last year.
The difference will be that most of the team, as well as the technical staff, will know what to expect. Players who got a taste of the USL experience last year will act as mentors with the younger players.
“I think the mistake we made last year was to put the opponent on a pedestal,” added Charbonneau. “We learned that we could stand up to them. If a player believes in himself and in what he can do, everything will be fine. Then, you have to work. It’s not a big deal to make a mistake if you constantly work hard to not repeat the same mistakes.”
“You need to understand that no one will treat you like a kid now,” noted Sukunda. “Away fans won’t leave you alone because you are only 18 or 19 years old.”
In this adult world, FC Montreal players need to quickly adapt to this reality. The USL is a huge step forward coming from the USSDA, but MLS is even harder to reach.
Last year, FC Montreal’s progression was clear after the first three months, when the players started getting good performances week after week and surprised many teams with an interesting level of play.