MONTREAL – At first, Marco Di Vaio thought Joey Saputo was wishing him an early happy birthday.
“I was talking to my wife this morning, and she showed me a tweet saying ‘Best wishes,’” Di Vaio told reporters on Thursday. “Then I realized it was about the All-Star Game.”
Saputo deleted his tweet minutes later, but there was next to no room for interpretation: Di Vaio was about to be named the AT&T MLS All-Star "In the Game" Forward, which the club confirmed a few hours later.
It might as well have been a birthday gift for Di Vaio, who will turn 37 on Monday. Di Vaio, a product of Italian club Lazio’s youth academy, bitter rivals of 2013 All-Star opponent AS Roma, will experience a wealth of emotions should All-Star team coach Peter Vermes give him the nod on July 31 at Sporting Park.
“It’ll be strange to play with the All-Stars against Roma, in Kansas City nonetheless,” Di Vaio said, evoking rivals of both his boyhood and current clubs. “It’s really peculiar. I’m glad to have a chance to catch up with Francesco [Totti, Roma captain] and the other players I know. It should be a good game for us and for everyone.”
As the only All-Star from the Montreal Impact ranks thus far, Di Vaio is hoping to properly represent his club. But he’s hopeful that this responsibility won’t fall solely on his shoulders.
“I wish I’d go there with teammates, for everyone has done a good job,” Di Vaio said. “Everyone deserves to go.”
One teammate who would certainly enjoy going to the All-Star Game is defender Matteo Ferrari, a former Roma player himself. The 33-year-old had told MLSsoccer.com a month ago that he would be “proud” to face his former team, but on Thursday, he congratulated Di Vaio before insisting on team, rather than individual, objectives.
“We’ll see, it’s not so important,” Ferrari said his own presence at the All-Star Game. “For us, the most important thing is the league, and then, if we have this bonus, then why not?”