MONTREAL – Upon scoring his first goal in MLS, Marco Di Vaio turned to the Stade Saputo crowd, opened his arms and then kissed the ring on his left hand, celebrating with his two feet firmly planted in the grass.
Until Felipe intervened, of course. The Brazilian midfielder brought Di Vaio to the ground in a bear hug, looked him straight in the eye and flashed a beaming smile at his teammate.
It’s just that Felipe really, really likes playing with a seasoned veteran like Marco Di Vaio.
GOAL: Di Vaio opens MLS account
“Everybody knows he’s a good player. The movement, it’s… unbelievable,” Felipe told MLSsoccer.com, almost at a loss for words. “When you have someone like that, it’s easier for you, because he makes a move and you just need to put the ball there. With the other guys, it’s the same, but he has more experience, he’s older so he’s played more.”
In other words, Felipe "feels" Di Vaio’s game. When playing in the middle of the line of three in the Impact’s 4-2-3-1, he is now almost able to link up with the Italian with his eyes closed – and Di Vaio can do the same with him.
The sequence leading to Sanna Nyassi’s goal in the 74th minute against the New York Red Bulls last Saturday exemplified the bond of trust between the Impact's No. 7 and 9. Taking advantage of a New York giveaway, Di Vaio controlled the ball on the edge of the box and, without looking, backheeled it to Felipe, who released the goalscorer.
In that position, Felipe remains close to Di Vaio – and often presses the opposition even higher than the forward – and enjoys the freedom that comes with it.
“That’s the position where I need to play, because I have more space and I am free to move to both sides, to drop deeper, to go higher,” Felipe said. “I feel better when I play there, but if the coach plays me as a keeper, I’ll play.”
Di Vaio set to miss Union clash
Montreal's Designated Player will not be Felipe’s partner this Saturday against the Philadelphia Union, however, as he will be in Italy to take part in a match-fixing hearing. The 36-year-old striker allegedly failed to disclose knowledge of an attempted sporting fraud by former Bologna teammate Daniele Portanova in May 2011.
He could face a three- to six-month ban, with the possibility that FIFA will implement that ban worldwide.
Di Vaio will leave Montreal on Wednesday night and return on Sunday.