MONTREAL — Nick De Santis always felt that Andrés Romero could bring something different.
Before Romero joined the Montreal Impact in February, De Santis, the club’s sporting director, had been aware of the Argentine midfielder for a few years and was convinced that his pace and technical qualities – his ability to dribble past opponents, in particular – could help the MLS side that had struggled to generate offence from the outside of midfield in its expansion season.
“We’ve been talking about looking for an attacking player, a forward/winger, that is versatile and Romero fits that role,” De Santis said shortly after Romero’s signing. “I think he’s going to bring a lot of speed and good technical qualities that will help make this team better.”
Romero explained to sportsnet.ca this week that the biggest challenge since his arrival to Montreal has been the language barrier, as the 23-year-old only speaks Spanish.
However the most important thing for Romero is the fact that he’s seeing the field a lot more than when he was playing in Brazil. Of the Impact’s 13 games in all competitions so far this year, Romero has already appeared in 12, registering three goals and two assists in the process.
But he insists he isn’t yet playing at his best.
“The transition is going okay. I’m very happy that I’m getting the chance to play, though I know I could be playing better than I am right now,” Romero said through an interpreter.
Impact coach Marco Schällibaum acknowledged that Romero initially had a difficult time acclimating to his new surroundings, but that in the past few outings he’s begun to really show his qualities on the field.
“At the beginning it wasn’t easy for him to adapt: coming from Argentina or Brazil to here isn’t easy,” Schällibaum said. “But I saw quickly that there was a big quality behind Romero and it shows now. He was maybe a little bit tired against Vancouver (in the first leg of the Canadian Amway Championship final), but he’s having some good games.”
Schällibaum, who has already used Romero on both sides of midfield as well as a central midfielder against New York, also appreciates the Argentine’s versatility.
“He has this flexibility to play on the right side, on the left side or in the middle behind the striker,” Schällibaum said. “I’ve seen different videos and he can also play as a forward. He’s very versatile, so that’s nice. And he’s a good guy also.”
Romero was first approached by the Impact a little over a year ago. He was under contract with Argentinos Juniors in the Argentine Premier League at the time, and had an opportunity to play in Brazil, and decided to try his luck there instead.
After unsuccessful stints with three different clubs in Brazil, the former Under-20 Argentine international received another call from the Impact, and this time he didn’t refuse.
Romero hasn’t regretted his decision to come to Montreal and hopes to be able to prove himself and stay on with the Impact even after his one-year loan deal expires in December.
“I definitely want to stay. I like the team and the club. There’s very good chemistry here,” Romero said. “And I feel like I’m starting to find my rhythm. But I still need to adapt to the league. For now, I’m playing at about 7o per cent.”
He might not feel the same way, but the Impact are certainly content with what they have seen so far.