In October, Calum Mallace was leading Marquette to a conference championship as the Big East Midfielder of the Year.
In January, he was picked in the MLS Superdraft by the Montreal Impact with the first selection of the second round. Now, his focus is breaking into the Impact lineup as a rookie.
Mallace has yet to make an appearance for the Impact, an expansion team in its first season.
He was part of the 18-man squad for the first four games of the season, but did not make it off the bench. Mallace recently suffered an ankle injury and just started training again about a week and a half ago.
Mallace is staying positive, saying he is extremely lucky to even have this opportunity, and to get paid to play the game he loves every day.
“I wake up every morning (and) go straight to training, which is the best feeling ever,” Mallace said. “I love training as much as I love games. To wake up and be able to do that every day, play the game I love, and get paid to do that, it’s an amazing feeling. I’m very lucky to be able to do that.”
The Impact’s Davy Arnaud, a midfielder, is one of the longest tenured players in the MLS: striker Bernardo Corradi has played all around Italy and scored goals wherever he’s been, and defender Matteo Ferrari has played in the UEFA Champions League.
Mallace said he doesn’t really notice he is playing against players like that until a training session is over and he can look back on it.
“You don’t really think about it in training when you’re playing against them,” Mallace said. “But after (training) you kind of take a step back and say, ‘Wow, these guys have played with the best at the highest level and hopefully they’re making me better.’”
For the rest of the season, Mallace doesn’t have a certain number of appearances he’s hoping for. As a rookie in the MLS, it is difficult to break into the starting lineup.
So Mallace is planning on working as hard as he can for the rest of the season so he gets his chance with the team.
“If I got the start next game and played every game for the rest of the season, that would be a dream,” Mallace said. “But that’s obviously not going to happen. So right now for me individually, it’s just pushing myself along every day, and contributing to the team as much as I can, and if or when I get that opportunity I’m definitely going to take it.”
Louis Bennett, Mallace’s coach at Marquette, said Mallace has a very bright career ahead of him and said he “would expect him to play about 15 games” this season.
Bennett said because of the franchise being in its inaugural season, the Impact needs to play experienced players and win games. But once Mallace gets his feet on the ground and the season gets going, he’ll break onto the team and make a difference.
“He’s definitely got the attitude,” Bennett said. “So when that door opens fully, he’s going to push it open and run straight through.”