The Philadelphia Union's Jack McInerney has taken MLS by storm as the league leader in goals heading into his return to the site of his lone red card from a season ago.
These forwards will be in the spotlight Saturday night when the Impact look to remain unbeaten at home as they meet the Union.
McInerney took his league-high goal total to eight in last Saturday's 1-0 home victory over Chicago. He has already matched his total from 25 games in 2012.
"Their striker has been in a great form so we definitely have to pay attention to that," Montreal midfielder Sinisa Ubiparipovic said. "He's (got) great skill, great speed and he reads the game real well."
The Union (5-4-3) are similarly aware of the talents of Di Vaio, who has scored his six goals over his last eight matches to tie Los Angeles' Mike Magee and Sporting Kansas City's Claudio Bieler for second in MLS.
Di Vaio has scored five times at home, where the Impact (6-2-2) are 4-0-1.
"I think we are expecting a very hard game because they are tough to beat in their stadium," Union forward Sebastien Le Toux said. "They have lots of success from the beginning of the year, with big offensive skills with Di Vaio - he scores lots of goals in their stadium."
These teams will meet for the first time since Montreal's 2-0 home win Aug. 4 in which McInerney and Impact defender Nelson Rivas were sent off. Rivas eventually was suspended three total games for head-butting Philadelphia's Antoine Hoppenot in the incident, and McInerney came to the defense of his teammate and pushed Rivas to the ground.
Rivas is out Saturday with a knee injury, but both clubs could have key defenders back.
Philadelphia central defender Jeff Parke is expected to play after missing the last three games with a hamstring injury.
Montreal defender Alessandro Nesta has missed the last three games, but the Italian star has returned to training.
"Our guys have done a good job on defense with him out of the lineup, but if Nesta is healthy, for sure he has to play," coach Marco Schallibaum told the Impact's official website. "Just the wealth of experience he brings helps the team. His leadership and calm on the pitch rubs off on everybody."
Impact defender Jeb Brovsky may try to play despite a broken nose.
Philadelphia, 3-2-1 on the road, sits two points behind Montreal - which has played two fewer matches.
"They are just above us in the standings, two points above us," Le Toux said. "We know with a win, we can pass in front of them."
The Impact's last MLS match came two weeks ago - a 3-2 home win over Real Salt Lake. They last played May 15 in a scoreless draw with Vancouver in the first leg of the Canadian Championship finals.
- Sports & Recreation
- Marco Di Vaio
- Montreal Impact
- Jack McInerney
- Nelson Rivas