MONTREAL – It’s been a tale of two half-seasons for Marco Di Vaio.
What had been a disappointing 2014 for Di Vaio started with a three-game suspension picked up in Houston in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Nagging injuries, mostly hamstring-related, then made his extraordinary 20-goal campaign in 2013 an even tougher act to follow.
But the World Cup break, during which Di Vaio spent 10 days in Italy, was a heaven-sent gift. A more specific training regimen upon his return has brought him back to a level of form that raised speculation of a 2015 return two weeks ago.
When Di Vaio talked to the media on Thursday ahead of this Saturday’s game against the Columbus Crew at Stade Saputo (7:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE), the preamble to one question was that he’d been scoring more regularly of late. It was only natural that the 38-year-old let out a relieved “Yeah.”
“I’m happy, because I need to train every day and to play, like everyone else,” Di Vaio said. “For me, training sessions are very important to improve my physical condition. The first part of the season, I couldn’t, what with these little injuries. There was no continuity for me at training. That’s the difference.”
The results were impressive, especially given Montreal’s tally of seven points in 11 games since the World Cup break. Di Vaio has scored four in the league since then, and he’s added three more – plus an assist – in two CONCACAF Champions League games.
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“Now, you see he’s recovered from his injury and he’s finding his rhythm with the players that have come in, [Ignacio] Piatti and [Dilly] Duka, who are good players when it comes to creating chances but who can also draw a bit more of the opponent’s attention,” assistant coach Mauro Biello said. “With players like that, it opens up a little bit more space for a guy like Marco.”
Di Vaio’s hoping for more of that on Saturday against the Crew, who’ve impressed him in their last two wins, convincing home defeats of the LA Galaxy and the Houston Dynamo. Biello called for more bite in midfield against Columbus, five time winners in seven all-time meetings between the two teams – a stat that dumbfounds Di Vaio.
“Every time, against Columbus, we’ve lost incredible games,” Di Vaio said. “We’re hoping to play a great game on Saturday.”