Mar 25, 2013, 2:35 PM EDT
“New York has got to find a way to mark [him] out of the game,” Red Bulls’ color man Shep Messing said during Saturday’s game. You could imagine the TSN guys saying something similar the week before, just as commentators in Portland and Seattle must have marveled at the Montréal Impact captain.
Maybe Saturday’s wasn’t his best game of the season, but in a week that lacked a truly remarkable performance, a typical Patrice Bernier effort may have been the round’s best. A linchpin in defense and fulcrum in attack, Bernier led his team to their fourth straight win to open the season. Along the way, he created Marco Di Vaio’s goal.
Splitting New York’s defense in the first half, Bernier’s assist made it easy to marvel at the obvious while overlooking the subtleties. Not everybody would even be in the right place to collect that second ball, but he takes it with his first touch, electing to play a half-volley off the Stade Olympique turf. With the speed of the surface, the pass had to be perfectly weighted, and that’s after he recognizes the defense and the run. The ball slowed short of the area and stayed up for Di Vaio, allowing the Italian marksman to hit it with his first touch. Had any of those factors not been executed clincially, Montréal may not have scored.
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Of course, Bernier’s performance was more than one pass. The organizer of Montreal’s three-man midfield, Bernier helped the Impact keep their second clean sheet of the season. His 55 completed passes were 19 more than any of his teammates, numbers that testify to his importance in the team.
In a week with a number of good-not-great performances, you’ll see cases made for a other Player of the Week candidates. Juan Agudelo’s finish was as clinical as Bernier’s pass. Chris Wondolowski almost single-handedly lifted the ball-starved Quakes to victory. Jackson’s work made the difference for FC Dallas.
We like all of those picks, but in a week where you could pull a number of names out of the hat, we just like Bernier’s a little more.
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