Marco Di Vaio admitted he’s considering retirement following this season, but the 37-year-old star forward said he’s committed to helping the Montreal Impact make a deep postseason run.
Fighting to separate themselves from a three-way tie atop the Eastern Conference, Montreal seeks a fourth straight home victory as it faces the Columbus Crew on Saturday.
Di Vaio scored twice in Sunday’s 4-2 victory over New England, giving him an MLS-leading 17 goals and his third two-goal game in his last four.
“Marco is very important in the dressing room, but also on the field,” coach Marco Schallibaum said. “I told him before the game he was a terminator and we need him again. I am very happy to have him.”
How long he’ll have his top scorer remains to be seen. An Italian newspaper reported Di Vaio may be returning to his former club to be a player-executive in November, and Impact team president Joey Saputo confirmed last month that a member of Di Vaio’s family is ill, forcing his family to return to Italy.
Di Vaio hasn’t made a decision yet.
“Maybe (I’ll retire), because it hasn’t been easy for me,” Di Vaio said Wednesday. “I decided to come here with my family, and my family’s not in Montreal anymore. It changes things a lot. Of course, if my family were here with me right now, I’d keep going one more year. But now, it’s a family situation.”
He stressed his commitment for this season to the Impact (13-7-6), who are tied with New York and Sporting Kansas City atop the East, though they have two games in hand.
Last week’s win over the Revolution gave Montreal a 3-0-1 mark over its last four.
“It was very important also when you see the standings to have a little break,” said Schallibaum, whose team will have six days between matches. “The race is long for the players. For the moral and psychological side, it was very important to have these three points.”
The Impact have gone 3-0-2 in their last five home games and are 9-1-3 on the season in Montreal, including a 1-all draw with the Crew on April 14.
Columbus (9-14-5) earned a 2-0 home victory over the Impact in the last meeting June 15. It hasn’t played nearly as well lately, though, dropping three of four while getting shut out in each defeat.
The Crew fell 3-0 to Kansas City last Saturday, three days after beating Houston 2-0 for their first victory under interim coach Brian Bliss.
“We were thrown in the deep end right away and had to change things for the short term as well as keep in mind the long term,” Bliss said. “Having two games in a week, opposed to having the entire week to train made it a tough week to jump in there.”
Bliss expected designated player Federico Higuain to return from a two-game suspension last Saturday, but Higuain suffered a left adductor injury in practice the day before the game and sat out again.
“I think maybe as a group, he’s our leader, and when he dropped out, it’s a blow to the staff but it’s also a blow to the guys he plays with because we lean on him a little bit,” Bliss said.
Bliss is hoping to have Higuain back for this contest.
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