MONTREAL – The Montreal Impact’s last two games of the season are a perfect opportunity to sow seeds for the future, and developing the relationship between attackers Marco Di Vaio and Andrew Wenger will certainly be crucial.
The forward pairing made its first steps on the field against a challenging opponent – to say the least – in the form of Olympique Lyonnais on July 24. Montreal held their ground in the friendly against the French giants, and as Di Vaio and Wenger both left the game at halftime, Impact fans could smile at the 1-1 scoreline. It was Wenger who had beaten French national team goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
“Marco has helped Andrew in a lot of different little ways, giving him ideas and guiding him in a good way,” Impact head coach Jesse Marsch told reporters on Tuesday. “We’ve got to keep pushing that.”
After the Lyon game, Di Vaio and Wenger were limited to a few minutes together over four games until Wenger was subbed on at halftime of Montreal’s 0-0 draw against Sporting Kansas City on Sept. 22. In that game Montreal pushed hard in the final minutes, but neither Di Vaio or Wenger, or anyone else, could find the net.
Montreal have only scored one MLS goal when the veteran and the rookie are both on the field, Sanna Nyassi's equalizer in Houston on Oct. 6 off a delicious Di Vaio pass. But in the Italian striker’s mind, the potential is there for all to see.
“[Wenger] learns and understands a lot,” Di Vaio told MLSsoccer.com. “He asks me a lot of questions about what we have to do on the field, how we play together, how we move and everything. He’s a smart guy who knows what he needs to understand in order to improve every day. For the Impact, he’s a forward for now and for the future.”
Di Vaio’s report card on Wenger states that the 21-year-old has a great eye for goal and a strong shot. What he needs to work on, the Impact No. 9 feels, is finding ways to get away from his marker and make himself free to make plays.
“He’s got everything for him,” Di Vaio said of Wenger. “And he has this great will to improve.”