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Final

Montreal Impact coach Marco Schallibaum admits prior injury hobbled Marco Di Vaio in loss to Houston

“Something is bothering Marco Di Vaio,” tweeted several Montreal Impact supporters even before their star striker limped off in the 62nd minute in Friday's 1-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo.

Indeed, something was.

Following the game, head coach Marco Schällibaum confirmed to reporters that the current MLS top scorer was already struggling with a knock prior to taking the field on Friday night. During his hour-plus on the field, Di Vaio was limited to just one shot – off target – and was caught offside twice.

Di Vaio applied ice to his left ankle immediately after being withdrawn, but Schällibaum sounded in no panic as he coolly explained the issue.

“It was already painful beforehand,” Schällibaum told reporters in French. “He gritted his teeth until he came off, but he wasn’t 100 percent. We saw, when he ran, that it wasn’t the 100 percent Marco Di Vaio. The pain became too intense, so we had to manage that. We still have four very interesting and tough games, and we need everyone.”

Montreal’s last stretch did grow more interesting – for neutrals, at least – on Friday. Their fourth winless game pushed them down to fourth in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the Dynamo with a game in hand. And Di Vaio was not the only casualty, so to speak, as Hassoun Camara will miss next Saturday’s game because of yellow card accumulation.

Perhaps saddled by Ricardo Clark’s early opener and by Patrice Bernier coming off the teamsheet late with a hip injury, the Impact struggled to bring ball forward in a first half that, for the most part, didn’t impress Schällibaum.

“First 40 minutes, we were too timid and committed too many fouls,” Schällibaum said. “We didn’t move forward well. The five minutes before halftime, we created a few good chances. In the second half, we showed that we can grab points away. We had very clear chances with Andrew Wenger on. I also think you have to whistle for a penalty there.”

Yet Schällibaum was not up in arms about the 69th-minute penalty incident – Davy Arnaud’s strike on an Wenger cutback appeared to strike Dynamo defender Bobby Boswell’s right elbow – mentioning it quite calmly. Rather, he believed that “we must take those chances we have.”

“It's been a tough time lately, but we must not forget to believe until the very end,” Schällibaum said. “It’s a tricky stretch, with decisions not going our way as well. We have to fight until the end.”