(Montreal) Ignacio Piatti has not been a CF Montreal player since 2019, but his name still means a lot to the team. Talk to Matías Cóccaro.
The 26-year-old Uruguayan knew very little about the Bleu-blanc-noir when he officially signed a three-year deal, plus two option years, with the club on Wednesday. However, his broad smile spoke volumes about his admiration for Piatti.
“I didn’t know any players from the current team, but I knew the name of the famous Argentinian player who played here and had a big impact. It influenced my decision. I haven’t spoken to him, but the team has sent me a lot of messages so I’m here to give my best. I am very happy and very excited to wear this sweater,” Cóccaro said through an interpreter on Thursday after training at the Cégep Marie-Victorin sports complex.
At this time of year, the sun shines a little less in Quebec than in Uruguay, but Cóccaro has still managed to fall under the spell of his new host land. He even attended the Rocket game in Laval on Wednesday, during which he was presented to the crowd.
Cóccaro left behind a successful situation with CA Huracan in Argentina’s first division, but he feels the opportunity offered by MLS and CF Montreal can help him make the jump to Europe.
“The team’s sports project is very interesting. I just left a club like Huracan to come here so I really believe in it and I’m very excited to be part of it. If it can open doors to Europe for me, I think it’s the perfect path to take, he mentioned. The MLS is growing. I want to make myself known across the league and I want to make an impact. »
In the style of Piatti, then. And if Cóccaro can fill the net for the Montreal team like Piatti did during 135 games in MLS, fans won’t want to let him leave.
In 110 matches with CA Huracan, Cóccaro scored 31 goals. CF Montreal now hopes to use its offensive flair to leave the bottom of MLS in terms of goals scored. In the 2023 season, the team has hit the target just 36 times in 34 games, tied for the fourth-worst total in the league.
Even though he said he is “a lover of goals”, Cóccaro wants to be more than just a striker for the Bleu-blanc-noir. He is ready to get involved on defense and work together with other offensive players to contribute to the team’s success.
I’m there to score, but I’m also there to help the team. If I have to go down to apply pressure, I’ll do it. I prefer to play alone as a striker, but I want to listen to what the coach tells me. If I have to adapt, I will. My goal is to win and help the team.
Head coach Laurent Courtois already has great plans for Coccaro this season, but he wants to give his new striker an adaptation period.
“He has energy and qualities as a player. I have a good idea of how he can be successful for us, but we have to give him time. He must get used to the temperature, the terrain and our principles. He will be a player on whom the club, the young people and the fans can count thanks to his attitude,” explained Courtois.
Now that Coccaro is officially under contract with Montreal, attacker Josef Martinez is the subject of credible rumors. Some journalists, including the renowned Tom Bogert, of The Athletic, shared on the social network X that an agreement between the club and the 30-year-old Venezuelan would be imminent.
Martinez was notably the MLS Most Valuable Player in 2018.
“Free players who have achieved great things, they interest everyone. I don’t want to confirm or deny anything, but there are a lot of players that we follow,” Courtois simply replied.
The arrival of Coccaro – and potentially Martinez – creates some congestion in attack, but Jules-Anthony Vilsaint sees it favorably and he has high expectations for his second full season with the club.
“I want to score more goals and have more assists. I want to help the team win, he said on Wednesday. (Matias) made a big impression. He comes from a place where it’s football or nothing. We hope he produces offensively and I hope we get along well on the field. »
Vilsaint only played 408 minutes in 2023, but he made some notable appearances despite some injuries. The 21-year-old Quebecer concluded the campaign with a goal and an assist, but beyond the statistics, he played with confidence in the company of Kwadwo Opoku and Sunusi Ibrahim.
When a reporter pointed out to Vilsaint that he appeared to have gained muscle mass, the forward indicated that he had followed a personalized training plan during the off-season.
“I gained a little bit of muscle mass, but I’m still working on that. In MLS, there are stronger defenders so I think that will help me to go toe-to-toe with them more this season,” he noted.
Quebecer Samuel Piette was back in training Thursday, after missing Wednesday’s training as a preventive measure.
Robert Thorkelsson and Lassi Lappalainen once again worked alone with a sports therapist.
Young Aleksandr Guboglo, from the Academy, joined CF Montreal training, along with midfielders Alessandro Biello and Matteo Schiavoni, as well as goalkeeper Judewellin Michel.
For a second day in a row, Chinonso Offor was not present at training.
Ariel Lassiter (Costa Rica) and Fernando Alvarez (Colombia) were absent to represent their countries.