MONTREAL – With Marco Di Vaio off to Italy for a hearing related to the match-fixing scandal in his home country, the Montreal Impact’s spearhead could very well go by the name of Andrew Wenger on Saturday.
Because of a hamstring injury, the No. 1 pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft has not started a game since June 20, a late 2-1 loss at Chivas USA. That was Wenger’s last outing before he made one other appearance in league play, coming on in the dying minutes of Montreal’s 3-1 win against New York last Saturday.
Those few minutes, coupled with a month of watching Di Vaio closely from the sidelines, have prepared Wenger for a fourth career MLS start that will, in all likelihood, happen against the Philadelphia Union (Saturday, 7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
WATCH: Di Vaio opens MLS account vs. NY
“I think it was good watching Marco and seeing some of his movements and how to fit in the team a little bit better,” Wenger told reporters. “As a rookie coming in my rookie year, it's a long season, so it was a little bit of a break to think about a couple of other things and regroup myself and, hopefully, move forward.”
And Wenger’s coach could not be happier with the way he approached his recovery.
“Even though he got hurt, and he was playing well,” said head coach Jesse Marsch, “he’s just been able to go about things like a regular professional instead of with the pressure of being the No. 1 pick.”
Wenger put his observations into practice during a successful half of play against French giants Olympique Lyonnais last week, during which he paired with Di Vaio up front and bagged a goal. The rookie enjoyed how the experienced Di Vaio, who is 14 years his senior, made things easier for him on the field and he rues the missed opportunity of playing alongside him this weekend.
But he can count on the help – and the trust – of his teammates on Saturday.
“[Andrew] hasn't been lucky with injuries, but he's a great prospect for Montreal soccer,” Hassoun Camara told reporters. “He has all the qualities to become a great player. Now he needs to play. He'll likely start on Saturday, and it's good for us because we trust him. He’s a skillful forward.”