NEWS
03/22/2016 17:34 EDT | Updated 03/23/2017 01:12 EDT

Versatile defender Camara proud to set Impact record for MLS minutes played

MONTREAL — Hassoun Camara is not the name that jumps out among the list of Montreal Impact mainstays since they joined Major League Soccer in 2012.

But 77 minutes into a 2-0 loss in Dallas on Saturday, the 32-year-old set a team record for most minutes played in MLS. He ended the match with 7,471 minutes, passing the mark of 7,458 set by Felipe Martins before the midfielder was traded to the New York Red Bulls last season.

Camara's 83 games started remains second to Felipe's 86 while his 91 total appearances is second to captain Patrice Bernier's 104.

"It's very satisfying," Camara said Tuesday. "A soccer career has its ups and down but it shows they've had confidence in me.

"I got a chance to play with some great players, like (Alessandro) Nesta, (Marco) Di Vaio, (Didier) Drogba or (Ignacio) Piatti and I'm proud to be the most-used player among players like that." 

Versatility has helped. The six-foot-two Frenchman is at home as a right back but can also play in the central defence or even in the midfield if needed.

He missed most of last season with a thigh injury and was sidelined as the Impact opened the season with a pair of wins.

An injury to left back Ambroise Oyongo opened the door for his season debut in Dallas as Donny Toia moved to the left side. Camara played 91 minutes of what turned out to be a tough match for the Impact defence.

"It was a difficult game collectively," he said. "It had been maybe five months (since I played) a 90-minute game, so it was for sure difficult against (Dallas midfielder) Fabian Castillo because he's a very good player.

"But it will help me grow."

Camara is one of three players left who were with the Impact before they joined MLS, along with goalkeeper Evan Bush and defender Wandrille Lefevre. He was named most valuable player on the team and was an NASL all-star in 2011.

Now he appears to be behind Toia on the depth chart for right backs and a first or second choice, with Lefevre, among centre backs behind starters Laurent Ciman and Victor Cabrera.

Oyongo, who has a knee injury, is not certain to be ready for the next game April 2 at Seattle.

"Right now we have an injury at fullback and he's getting an opportunity," said coach Mauro Biello, the 23-year-old club's all-time games played leader with 344 from 1993 to 2009. "It's going to take some time before he gets his rhythm back fully."

In Dallas, the Impact surrendered a goal to Mauro Diaz in the 79th minute and the clincher in the 87th to Maximiliano Urruti. They were outshot 15-6, including 6-2 in shots on target.

"Our rhythm wasn't as good as in the first two games," said Biello. "If you look at the passing accuracy, we were a lot lower than against New York or Vancouver."

Star striker Didier Drogba went on for the final 20 minutes in the Impact's first game on a grass field and had some chances. Drogba returned to Montreal with the team but was not on the field for practice in cold weather Tuesday.

With more cold and perhaps some snow forecast for the next few days, the Impact won't be able to lift the tarp off one of the grass pitches at their training centre so it is unclear how much on-field training the 38-year-old will get this week.

Drogba was training with a team in Sacramento, Calif. before joining the Impact in Dallas and Biello said there is a chance he will fly south again.

 

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press