Before Jamiro Monteiro completed his first season with the Philadelphia Union, he was worried about what his next move would be.
The Cape Verde international midfielder spent the 2019 Major League Soccer season in Philadelphia on-loan from French side FC Metz, where he did not play for an extended period of time.
The Union wanted the 26-year-old on a permanent basis and Monteiro felt welcome inside the club, but getting a deal across the finish line was far from easy.
“First of all, I was in Metz and I was in a difficult situation because I was not playing for like seven months,” Monteiro told reporters Tuesday. “When I got in contact with (technical director) Chris (Albright) in that time, he came to Metz and we talked about the club and everything.
“The first time I came here and Philly took me on-loan, I was here nine months and since the first moment I came here, I had a lot of trust from Chris and (sporting director) Ernst (Tanner). They believed in me and that’s why I made the decision to come back. That’s why I’m here.”
The contract discussions between Monteiro and the Union began during the 2019 campaign, and it admittedly took a small toll on the midfielder’s mind set.
Monteiro’s relationship with head coach Jim Curtin, who provided him with advice in certain parts of the season, helped ease his concerns.
“To be honest, we were talking the whole season about signing a contract here,” Monteiro said. “It was taking very long. Sometimes before games I was thinking about what was my next option. It was difficult sometimes, but I talked a lot with the coach and he always told me to just focus on the games and everything will be alright. I’m happy I made this decision and I get a lot of trust also from the coach.”
Even when he returned to Europe during the off-season, there were concerns about what the next step would be.
“That was also difficult because I was still waiting on the agreement with Philly,” Monteiro said. “I was only thinking it when I go to bed. I was thinking ‘What will be my next option. What will I do’. At that time, I didn’t want to go back to Metz. It was difficult also because it took long, but finally it worked out.”
With a long-term deal in place and a club-record transfer fee paid for him, Monteiro is ready to focus on the 2020 campaign and put his nightmare at Metz behind him.
“Which club? Metz? I don’t know Metz. I only know Philly now. I don’t want to talk about Metz,” Monteiro said when asked about his former club.
Monteiro is projected to play a major role in midfield once again alongside Alejandro Bedoya in midfield to provide support in both aspects of the game in the club’s 4-4-2 base formation. A season ago, Monteiro tallied four goals and eight assists for the Union in 29 appearances across all contests.
Adding to the pressure is a jersey change from No. 35 to No. 10, one Monteiro asked for after Marco Fabian, who wore No. 10 last season, did not return.
“It’s just a number. I still have the same qualities,” Monteiro said. “It’s a big number. Every midfielder wants to play with the No. 10 so that’s why I took it. It was free so that’s why I felt good to take. I always wanted to take the No. 10, that’s why I made the decision.”
While Monteiro is still bringing the same qualities to the pitch, he is looking for an improvement in results. The Union won their first-ever playoff game in 2019 and were then eliminated by Atlanta United in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
With a taste of success in their mouths now, the Union are hungry to achieve more with a good amount of their core returning.
“We want to do better than last year,” Monteiro said. “I hope we can do the same, but only better. It was hard that we lost that game, but that happened. We have a new season, new options, new chances so I hope we will do better.”