TORONTO – Nine days after the final game of a more than decent inaugural MLS campaign, the Montreal Impact will be landing in Italy. But it will be no vacation.
Starting Nov. 5, Montreal will play at least two games against Italian clubs over 13 days, the club announced on Friday, with stops in Bologna and Florence already booked.
“Our season’s coming to an end earlier than we thought and hoped,” Marsch told reporters on Saturday, “but we still want to use the month of November in the right way to make sure that guys don’t have too much time off and lose too much fitness come January.”
There is every possibility that both Bologna and Fiorentina will field second-string sides, as the games have been scheduled on Thursdays between Serie A match days 11 and 13. This tour could nevertheless prove to be an invaluable experience for the Impact, all the more so given that a number of plane tickets will be handed to U-21 youngsters.
The trip will also be an opportunity to reinforce the Impact’s relationships overseas with the January transfer window in mind. The club’s links to Italy were most notably reflected in friendly matches against Fiorentina and AC Milan in 2010, as well as in the signings of Matteo Ferrari, Bernardo Corradi, Marco Di Vaio and Alessandro Nesta.
“I think our relationships in Italy are pretty good,” Marsch said with a hearty laugh. “We might even get a few players to come in on trial and take a look at different things. We’ll try to use it and maximize the use of the time in every way."
The first stop of the tour will be particularly significant for Di Vaio, who will catch up with the Bologna fans he treated to 65 league goals from 2008 to 2012. The striker’s transfer from Bologna to Montreal was a source of genuine sadness among the faithful of the Rossoblù.
Moreover, Di Vaio believes it will be a good opportunity for his teammates to get acquainted with a different style of soccer in another country.
“And I never thought that I would get a chance to go back to Bologna with the Impact,” Di Vaio said.