MONTREAL – Impact supporters were hoping that new Designated Player Marco Di Vaio would put the hurt on their loathed Toronto rivals on Wednesday night in a most memorable MLS debut. None of them could foresee the Reds leaving Montreal with their second MLS win of the season, a 3-0 triumph.
Di Vaio had proved to be too humble to promise any fireworks against TFC, but it certainly did not go as he had planned.
WATCH: Di Vaio comes close, but can't connect
“I was hoping for a different kind of game,” Di Vaio told reporters after the game on Wednesday. “I was hoping for a win, a more engaged performance from everyone. … After Toronto scored, we didn’t react, and that was tough for our state of mind because we couldn’t do anything important afterwards.”
Tthe Italian dropped deeper as the game went on, as his teammates struggled to link up with him – he barely got a touch of the ball in the attacking third after the 25th minute. Head coach Jesse Marsch withdrew Di Vaio from the game 55 minutes in, but he sounded pleased with what he brought to the table.
“You see the flashes that he has, but we didn’t get him going enough, didn’t get him the ball enough,” Marsch said after the game. “But he’ll get better.”
Front office surprise at attendance numbers
Despite Di Vaio’s debut – and the fact that they twice entertained crowds of more than 58,000 fans at the Olympic Stadium – the Impact were unable to sell Stade Saputo out for a third game in a row since moving back in.
Impact vice president Richard Legendre recognized on Thursday that the front office is “surprised” at the drop in attendance numbers and that nothing can be taken for granted.
“Maybe we slightly overestimated the product’s notoriety,” Legendre told reporters. “Let’s not forget that, eight or nine months ago, current Impact players were playing for several different teams, so notoriety and a sense of belonging can't come instantaneously.
“At the moment, the Ultras are on fire, but so are the other fans in the stadium. We can feel something developing between this Impact and the public.”
Legendre also encouraged fans to contact the Impact front office with suggestions of things the club might not have done or could have done better.
They will get an opportunity to do so in person starting next Thursday, July 5, as the Impact will hold their first weekly “open house” night at Stade Saputo. Fans will be invited to stop by the stadium, where they will be able to get in touch with staff members and players, from 5-7 pm ET.