It may have been in the 20s on Wednesday for Jamiro Monteiro’s first day training with the Philadelphia Union, but it didn’t take head coach Jim Curtin long to see the quality of his new central midfielder.
“With talented players you can see right away how they’ll fit into the group; they’re very adaptable to whatever the team needs,” Curtin said in his weekly press conference on Wednesday. “I think that guys who are probably still young who have been at places that are a high level can kind of adjust and see what’s needed in the team.”
The 25-year-old Dutch-born midfielder who has represented Cape Verde on the international lefel arrived on Tuesday to complete a four-month loan from French Ligue 2 club FC Metz that includes both an option to extend through the end of the MLS season and to purchase. The Union used targeted allocation money to make the deal.
His arrival came as a bit of a surprise a week into the season after Sporting Director Ernst Tanner had said he was signaled his satisfaction with the 25-player roster he had assembled going into his first full season in MLS.
Speaking with reporters after training on Wednesday, Tanner insisted that the loan deal was not a reaction to the weekend’s performance, adding that they had been scouting Monteiro for a while.
“It was already clear on Saturday that he was going to come,” Tanner said.
Monteiro was sold last summer from Heracles Almelo in Holland to FC Metz for about $3.4 million, according to Transfermrkt, but has played only twice this season in Ligue 2.
“There are some reasons why Metz paid such a huge amount of money,” Tanner said. “It was a little bit astonishing to us that he didn’t play much in the beginning but otherwise we wouldn’t have him here.”
Curtin said Monteiro’s versatility was a big part of what made him such an attractive player to add to a midfield that includes captain Alejandro Bedoya, veterans Ilsinho, Haris Medunjanin and Warren Creavalle along with homegrown players Derrick Jones, Brenden Aaronson and Anthony Fontana.
“I think he is a guy who is comfortable playing as an eight, he’s comfortable playing with two 10s, he’s comfortable in that area, he can play as a six,” Curtin said. “He’s very versatile and you could see today in training just his ability and quickness to win balls, to play forward, he was very smooth and comfortable on the ball so you could see him as a guy that could play either side of the diamond, he could play with two deeper midfielders, one defensive minded he could be one of those as well.”
Monteiro said the way he plays translates well to different formations and tactical approaches the Union might take this season.
“I’m a player that works hard, I always want to make things good, my pass, my shots,” Monteiro said in an interview with media after training on Wednesday. “I hope I can be an important player for the Union.”
Tanner said he anticipates Monteiro will be cleared to play — international paperwork is still pending — by the March 23 home game against Columbus Crew “at the latest.” In the meantime, the recent arrival will acquaint himself with his new teammates and his new home, which he knows primarily through listening to Meek Mill’s music.
“Yesterday was my first day and I got a warm welcome from everybody,” he said. “The guys are really warm people so I just already feel my home, I’m already family.”