SPORTS

Impact sign veteran midfielder Patrice Bernier to new contract

12/11/2014 05:10 EST | Updated 02/10/2015 05:59 EST
MONTREAL - Patrice Bernier said he never wanted to leave his hometown club, but the Montreal Impact's dismal Major League Soccer season had him considering his options.

Any concerns appear to have been put to rest, as Bernier signed a new two-year contract with the Impact on Thursday.

The team captain will be a veteran presence in a revamped midfield, which includes new additions Marco Donadel and Nigel Reo-Coker.

"My heart is here, I started here, and the goal when I came back (to North America) three years ago was I wanted to be part of the project and I wanted to finish here," Bernier said at a news conference.

"It's just when it's a bad season you start to think of everything, because at the age that I am you start thinking that you want to win, you want to finish on a good note knowing you built something that's going to go further on."

The 35-year-old team captain from Brossard, Que., played in 26 regular-season games with the Impact last MLS season, including 20 starts. He was a stabilizing presence on an otherwise struggling team, as the Impact finished last in the MLS standings at 6-18-10.

At his age, and with the Impact struggling, he said he had to think about winning and ending his career on a high note.

"I don't think in my mindset I ever wanted to leave," Bernier said. "It was, 'Where are we going?'"

The moves the Impact have made this off-season, adding a wealth of European experience, seems to have provided adequate direction for Bernier.

Donadel is a veteran of 244 games in Italy's elite Serie A, and Reo-Coker played over 200 games in the English Premier League before joining the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2013.

"We're going to have a team that's going to erase this past season," Bernier said.

Bernier has 13 goals and 19 assists in 84 MLS regular-season games over three seasons with the Impact.

He was named the team's player of the year in 2012 and took part in the 2013 MLS all-star game against Italian side A.S. Roma.

Having been a part of some of the club's biggest moments, Bernier said it would have been difficult to play for another MLS team.

"I didn't see anywhere else to play, at least here in North America," he said. "It would have been weird to be somewhere else."

And Bernier will have the chance to play competitive soccer next year even if the Impact have another bad MLS season. Montreal advanced to the quarter-finals of the CONCACAF Champions League and will play a two-leg series with Mexican club Pachuca starting in February.

Internationally, Bernier has made 50 appearances with Canada's senior men's team, scoring two goals.

With midfield now set for the Impact, manager Frank Klopas said the team's next target is to improve at centre-back.

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