On February 25, CF Montreal began their 2023 MLS campaign against Inter Miami. For this long-awaited first duel of the season, Mathieu Choinière started the game on the bench. However, he came as a reinforcement for the second half. In short, we are talking here about a typically choinièresque scenario and in the image of his first five years at the club. At least, until then.
If we take a small jump in time of four months, the Quebec midfielder has been selected for the MLS All-Star Game. At the same time, he will be the only Canadian and also the only player from a Maple Leaf club at this event. It’s quite a tour de force.
What happened between the end of February and the end of June, to come to this? Well, Choinière has become a fixture in Hernán Losada’s starting XI. His volume of play, his desire to play forward and above all his grinta – this combativeness, this relentless ardor – propelled him to the forefront.
Choinière is the first to admit that at the start of the season, he could never have imagined being invited to the all-star game. That said, from day one, he was set up to succeed, in his own words.
“At the start of the season and even in pre-season, I felt the confidence of the staff in me, so even if I didn’t start the first game, it didn’t discourage me. I felt everyone was behind me. Both the club, the staff and my teammates, they were all behind me so that when I get my chance, I will feel comfortable on the pitch,” the 24-year-old said on the phone.
This is exactly what happened. When Samuel Piette fell in battle, the door was wide open for Choinière in midfield. For the first time in his career, he had a real and long audition for this position and since then he has not looked back.
It was his performances that earned him one of two picks for MLS commissioner Don Garber, along with ex-teammate Kei Kamara. Choinière will become the Bleu-blanc-noir’s seventh player in the All-Star Game after Marco Di Vaio, Patrice Bernier, Ignacio Piatti, Laurent Ciman, Didier Drogba and Kamal Miller when he faces Arsenal on July 19.
If the big boss of the circuit was charmed, it should be noted that Choinière is still waiting for a call for the senior team of Canada. Although he “would like to be” with his compatriots at the Gold Cup, the main interested party does not worry too much. He says he will watch all of Canada’s games and wants John Herdman’s men to get their hands on the trophy.
Failing to face Guadeloupe, Cuba and Guatemala, he will have to resign himself to facing Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Martin Ødegaard and Kai Havertz. One can imagine the worst.
The announcement of Choinière’s participation in the all-star game was well played by Losada. The players were invited to a meeting in the conference room, a commonplace so far. It was the sequel that created the surprise.
Losada invited Choinière to join him in front, took out a jersey from his pockets on which was flocked the inscription All-star with the number 29, that of Choinière. Immediately, several teammates jumped out of their seats and cheered on the Quebecer who then pointed to them in thanks.
Initially, when Choinière saw the jersey, he said to himself: “But what is that? Isn’t that right? He was speechless. “I saw the reaction of the guys. Everyone was really happy for me. It’s a beautiful moment, it’s really fun,” he added.
Two days after Tuesday’s announcement, the so-called Choi-choi still couldn’t believe it: “There are times when I’m like, ‘Hey, that’s right, I’m leaving. over there, it’s going to be sick, it’s going to be crazy.” But here I am here and I try to pay attention to what I do and to the matches that are coming. But sometimes I have little moments where I’m like, “That’s right. It’s gonna be amazing, it’s gonna be so much fun!” »
However, before even indicating how he will be able to savor this opportunity, he specifies: “This moment is not just for me, it is for all those who have helped me achieve my goals. This is why his parents and his girlfriend will certainly be on the trip.
He did not forget to mention his head coach with whom he has a good relationship. “When you know the coach loves you, and that’s how I feel as a player, you can try stuff on the pitch,” he explained.
Except that during Thursday morning’s CFM media availability, Losada did not talk about Mathieu Choinière as a player, but rather about his person and his character.
“[Mathieu] is someone who always puts the team before himself. He worked very hard, he comes from the Academy and he is from Quebec. He has everything to make us proud. It is also a perfect example for all young players who want results immediately and are impatient. What, three or four years he’s been waiting for his chance to play his real job? He is a player who helps us extremely and I am proud and happy for him,” Losada noted.
This selection is certainly a kind of consecration of the work of recent years for Choinière. After eating his black bread for quite a while, his turn with the soccer gratin is well deserved.
In 2023, MLS decided to return to the All-Star Game format, seeing a team of MLS stars chosen by fans, members of the media, coach and commissioner go head-to-head with a European giant. This year, the task will be complex, as Arsenal are one of the hottest teams on the Old Continent.
The Gunners finished second in the English Premier League and will be back in the Champions League for the first time since Arsene Wenger’s departure. Mikel Arteta’s troupe will therefore not be taken lightly.
“Since I was little, I’ve been watching soccer,” Choinière said. I watched Arsenal a lot, I watched the Premier League a lot. I could name the whole club! To tell myself that I am going to play against them, I do not realize it yet. It will be sick. To play against players like that, it’s just going to indicate how far and where I’m at in my career. Even the guys in the league, I’m going to get to know them by training and playing with them. I am speechless. »