New Montreal Impact star Marco Di Vaio hopes his first Major League Soccer goal is right around the corner.
“I’m still working hard,” said Di Vaio, as the struggling Impact prepared for Sunday night’s game against the Columbus Crew at Saputo Stadium. “I’ve talked a lot but I haven’t done anything yet. I hope I’ll score some goals soon.”
The Impact have lost their last three games, beginning with Di Vaio’s MLS debut, a 3-0 loss to Toronto on June 27. Three days later, Montreal was shut out by the same score against D.C. United in Washington.
Di Vaio, a former Italian international and Montreal’s only designated player, was again kept off the scoresheet Wednesday, though the Impact did finally score in a controversial 3-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City.
Patrice Bernier opened the scoring with his fourth goal of the season early in the second half before the wheels fell off for the Impact. Referee Sorin Stoica awarded Kansas City a pair of penalty kicks, which were both converted.
Impact coach Jesse Marsch, who threw his jacket to the ground in anger at one point, tempered his post-game comments, revealing that he had been fined the previous week for saying a referee showed bias. The first-year coach instead focused on the positive parts of his team’s performance.
“I was actually very pleased with the first half and the way that we pushed the game against a physical team and everything else,” Marsch said. “We did all the things we wanted to, even up to getting the lead, and then obviously things went a little crazy.
Marsch said Wednesday’s loss provided a learning and bonding experience for his team, adding that his players need to develop a “hard mentality to compete and get through tough moments in games.”
Newly-acquired Italian star Alessandro Nesta, who the Impact introduced on Friday, has begun practising with the Impact. But the 2006 World Cup-winner is still a couple of weeks away from being match ready.
Marsch will also have to do without midfielder Felipe Martins and captain Davy Arnaud on Sunday night. Both will serve one-game suspensions after drawing their fifth yellow cards of the season Wednesday.
The Impact will face the Crew for the second time this season. But Marsch said both squads have changed since the Crew won 2-0 in Columbus on March 24.
“That game we get a red card and we wind up playing a man down most of the game,” he said. “There are I think some things we can draw on from that game but I think both teams have grown a lot since then.”
The Crew enter Sunday’s game on the strength of a 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake. They sit sixth in the Eastern Conference on 22 points, two spots and four points ahead of the Impact.
“Physically, they compete,” Marsch said. “They foul guys, they compete on set pieces.
“Every team we play against is physical ... so we’ve got to continue to figure out how to be successful in those games.”