Former CPL standout Sean Rea reflects on memorable CF Montréal debut: "It was an exceptional feeling"
It was a moment to remember.
As expected, 20-year-old CF Montréal attacking midfielder Sean Rea made his MLS debut this past weekend, entering the game as a 61st-minute substitute against Inter Miami.
With his team trailing by one, he was called upon by head coach Hernán Losada to give his team a bit of an attacking spark, as his team looked to overturn an early Miami deficit.
And although Losada’s side eventually fell 2-0 to Miami, Rea certainly accomplished his mission, and then some, looking very comfortable in his time on the field, playing with all sorts of confidence, freedom and creativity.
In just 29 minutes, he managed to create three chances, tied for the most in the game, and top five in all of MLS on opening day, providing the spark that his coach had hoped to see from the youngster.
“That was my goal,” Rea told Montréal reporters in French this week. “I wanted to come on and create a spark, try to light up the attack a little, and I think I did a good enough job of that. Of course, I could do even better, but I’m happy with those first minutes.”
In the process, Rea also accomplished a longtime dream of his, as well - playing for his hometown team, as he is a born and raised Montréaler, one who grew up watching the team from a young age.
So while the game might’ve represented a huge professional milestone for Rea, it also allowed him to fulfill the wishes of a younger version of himself, who always imagined one day he would don the blue and black colours of his local team.
“It was an exceptional feeling,” Rea expressed. “It has always been a childhood dream to play with my club, Montréal. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the result we wanted, but it was just the first game, so we’ll keep working.”
Hungry and eager to come into that game, the former Valour loanee almost felt a jolt of energy as soon as the call to enter the game, and from there, he didn’t look back once presented with the opportunity.
“I was ready on the bench,” Rea continued. “As soon as coach said “Sean, get ready”, I was ready, as I’d been waiting for those words since I was a kid, so I was eager to get after it.”
Now, the 2022 Canadian Premier League young player of the year has his sights set on his next goal - to turn that strong cameo as a sub into a chance to start Montréal’s next game, a clash against Austin FC this weekend.
Off the back of his strong performance, he’ll look to leverage that into a chance to make the starting XI, as he helps Montréal fill in the gaps left behind by the departure of Djordje Mihailović. And if that first cameo is to be any indication, it looks like they’ll be in safe hands, at least if Rea has anything to say about it.
“I’m hoping to start (against Austin), but that’ll be the coach's decision,” Rea explained. “So my goal this week has just been to work hard in training, and do what I can to make it happen.”