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Grad season comes early for Impact's class of Ouimette

Noel Butler
6/8/2012 1:50:43 PM
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With almost a fortnight since the Montreal Impact were last in league action, the focus on the playing side has centred on Marco di Vaio. Then throw in a Del Piero rumor here, Ballack speculation there and reports of contact with Clarence Seedorf.

All the while an unassuming young man has quietly gone about his business in his usual dedicated fashion.

Having joined the Montreal Impact as a 17-year-old back in 2009 - a season where he helped the then Impact reserve team the Trois-Riviéres Attak claim it all in the CSL - there will be no more cleaning of boots for Karl W. Ouimette. 

A four-year professional contract instead!

Celebrated earlier this week as the first player, Quebecer at that, to progress from the Academy to the senior side, but for Ouimette it was the rapid rise he had foreseen.

"In the short term I wanted to become a better player and to be in the starting line up of the Academy," Ouimette disclosed to TSN.ca. "One of my goals was to become captain of the [Academy] team. A further objective was to become a part of the first team."

The central defender fondly recalls his introduction to the blue shirt and Impact philosophy, "My first year at the Academy I was a starter and I played the most minutes in the team and we got the cup, we finished first in the championship and we won the playoffs as well. So it was a great feeling, a great achievement."

His rise through the Impact ranks mirrors Ouimette's introduction to soccer. "I just started in little leagues in Terrebonne. I went to Laval when I was in Triple A and that is where the Quebec provincial team saw me playing."

The milestone maker didn't hesitate when naming the Impact's Academy director Philippe Eullaffroy as the most significant influence to his career. "He had confidence in me in the beginning, he put me on the field I gained a lot of experience. His tips and his tricks were very important for me to progress."

Their relationship integral for his development, "It has been incredibly important for me. He was always telling me what I had to do better, what I had to work on. As a coach he has been doing good practices where we could progress on technical work, physical work. He was reading a lot of literature telling us what was good for us and what kind of practices we needed to make us better."

Eullaffroy recalled Ouimette's Impact beginnings, telling TSN.ca, "When he came in 2009, it was a raw player. His strengths were in the physical aspects of his game. In one-on-one situations he was already very strong, he was fast and good in the air."

There was plenty to work on. "Where he was weak was in the quality of his passing, his decision making were not as good as his physical aspects of his game," he added.

But learn and develop Ouimette did. "Where he improved a lot in his first few years was working on his right foot with his short and long passes. In these last two years where he has improved is with his left foot. The way he's passing the ball, making decisions during the game."

The way he set about the task an example to kids right across the country. "To improve the technical aspects of his game every practice he arrives 30 minutes before everybody and he leaves 30 minutes after everybody and keeps working on his long and short passes. When you play as a central defender you must have both feet."

 "He worked very hard on his weaknesses. He's improved a lot, is very dedicated and knows the price to pay to reach the next level. That's why he has a four-year contract with the organization."

The Impact's technical director is fully confident Ouimette's development has much more trajectory ahead.

"The first asset is he is very strong mentally combined with his will to succeed. What we don't know is his capacity to adjust to the level of game at the MLS level. He's played very well though in the MLS reserve games he's played in the past two months, the best player on the pitch."

"It's very difficult to say where he will end up - the Premiership, France or Germany I do not know. But I feel firmly he will be one of the best defenders in MLS in two or three years."

Eullaffroy has certainly instilled a growing confidence in Ouimette. "I have my own style," came his instant response when asked about the player he most models his playing style on. He does though admire the Chelsea captain. "I like Johnny Terry a lot. He's physical and likes to be aggressive on the ball and wins a lot of duels and he is able to play well out of the back."

Ouimette though saving most admiration for an ex-team mate, Samuel Piette the 17-year old who is currently with the men's national team on World Cup qualifying duty.

"He's very young and he's incredible. When I was in the Quebec team, he was in the team but two years younger than us and I felt he was a great player and was able to control the game a lot. He's progressed a lot in the past few years and now he's on the national team. It's incredible. I'm very proud of him."

The two Quebec youngsters choose distinct career paths, "I chose to stay home because the Impact had a lot of confidence in me right from the start and helped me become a better player. They offered me a contract and I said yes. It's a huge honour to play for a team here in Quebec."

"MLS is a great league, so that's why I decided to stay here."

Additionally Ouimette had the most compelling reason for choosing the homegrown route. His mother. The first person he turned to when signing his four-year deal.

 "She is a great part of my life and has always been there for me."

Over the next four seasons a most grateful Ouimette will set about repaying that faith. Montreal Impact supporters over at Stade Saputo are about to bare witness to that.

Noel Butler

Noel Butler


Noel Butler is an analyst for TSN's soccer coverage and his blog can be read on TSN.ca. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/TheSoccerNoel and listen to his radio program oranges@halftime on TSN Radio 690 Montreal.

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