Montreal Impact midfielder Marco Donadel avoids “stupid” yellow cards in playoffs

Montreal Impact midfielder Marco Donadel avoids “stupid” yellow cards in playoffs

Main pic: Montreal Impact’s Marco Donadel, right, challenges Seattle Sounders’ Erik Friberg during first half MLS soccer action in Montreal, Saturday, July 25, 2015. Donadel led MLS in yellow cards in his first season in North America but the Italian has been focused on the game in the playoffs. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes.

MONTREAL — Marco Donadel saw a lot of yellow in his first season in Major League Soccer.

The Montreal Impact midfielder led the league with 13 yellow cards, two more than Damien Perrinelle of the New York Red Bulls and Vancouver’s Kendall Waston, although he has managed to avoid any trouble with the referees during the playoffs.

“The first reason is the position (he plays) on the field,” the defensive midfielder said Thursday. “I’d prefer to take 10 yellow cards but stop a bad action 10 times.

“But I can, without great problems, take maybe six or seven less. I took a lot of stupid yellow cards. Sometimes my fault, sometimes not. But it isn’t a problem. If every time I take a yellow card we win, I’m really happy and everyone’s happy.”

The 32-year-old old has focused on his performance as Montreal built its current five-game winning streak, which includes a 3-0 win over Toronto FC in the knockout round of the playoffs and a 2-1 victory at home Sunday over the Columbus Crew in the first leg of the semifinals. Donadel went card-free in both games.

The Impact will take a one-goal lead into the second leg of the two-game, total-goals series on Sunday in Columbus.

Donadel emerged as a key player for Montreal once he got the hang of playing in a new league after a decade with various clubs in Italy. He takes most of the team’s corner kicks and many free kicks, while assisting the defence at the back and restarting the attack.

In the playoffs, coach Mauro Biello has got the best from him by changing from a system with two defensive midfielders to one, shifting playmaker Ignacio Piatti to the left side and freeing Patrice Bernier to support the attack.

Bernier responded with a goal in each playoff game.

“With two midfielders, we have to run and run,” said Donadel, whose only goal this season was a 30-yard rocket against Columbus in July. “This is different.

“You have more (space) to see everything and more time to breathe. In Italy, I always played that position. When you run and run you have less lucidity and sometimes maybe some yellow cards.”

Biello said the cards were not a major concern.

“It was an adaptation and it was addressed,” he said. “Every league has different styles of play and different ways that referees handle the game.

“He played 10 years in Italy and he was used to getting away with stuff, or there were things he could or couldn’t do and now it’s a bit different. In the second half of the season he adapted and there were less yellow cards.”

Donadel began his pro career with AC Milan, played 184 games for Fiorentina and then went to Napoli, who loaned him to Verona for the 2013-’14 campaign. He was captain of an Italy squad that won the European under-21 championship and he won an Olympic bronze medal in 2004.

He signed with Montreal in December.

Donadel has come to like MLS, even though it brought some soccer culture shock.

“I don’t think it’s easier like everyone says,” he said. “It’s different, but different is not easier.

“It’s a good show. You play in full stadiums. This way to win — playoffs — is for show, no? You play all season and then, in 90 minutes, you can go out. It’s difficult, but it’s beautiful.”

Midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker missed a second day of training with an illness. He is due back Friday but it remains to be seen if he will be fit to play the second leg.

Striker Didier Drogba took the day off to rest.

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press

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