Impact-Union Preview

The Associated Press

Marco Di Vaio is back, and the Montreal Impact should be thrilled.

After watching the Impact lose every game of his suspension, Di Vaio attempts to pick up where he left off last season and continue his success against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday at PPL Park.

Di Vaio and midfielder Andres Romero were suspended for the first three games due to their involvement in an altercation with Houston late in a 3-0 playoff defeat Oct. 31.

Di Vaio's return will likely have a major impact for Montreal (0-3-0) after his 20 goals last season helped the club reach the postseason for the first time.

The Italian forward's absence was certainly felt, as the Impact were outscored 6-2 during his ban. They've been shut out in each of the last two, falling 2-0 at home against Seattle on Sunday.

"I read that everyone is waiting for me and Romero to come back and grab points, but for me, that's not how it works," Di Vaio told the team's official website. "Two players aren't going to change things. We've worked a lot, we've worked really well, and the team played some good games."

Di Vaio has four goals in as many meetings with the Union (1-1-1), but none in two on the road. He failed to get a shot on goal in the most recent visit to PPL Park as the Eastern Conference rivals played to a scoreless draw Aug. 31.

"Goals are only important to him if he helps the team win," coach Frank Klopas said. "It's good to have him because the mentality he has, his work rate. You can see in training that he's a competitive guy that never wants to lose, and I think that kind of (spreads among) everyone."

The Union are looking to open a season with back-to-back home wins for the second time in their five seasons. They beat New England 1-0 on March 15 before losing 2-1 at Columbus last Saturday.

Coach John Hackworth feels any success will come from limiting Di Vaio.

"It's a dangerous kind of game for us," he told the Union's official website. "In particular, it's the fact that they have Di Vaio coming back. (He's) the best striker in our league at peeling off the back shoulder of a center back and having his teammates recognize exactly how he wants the ball."

Scoring has been an issue for Philadelphia, as it's managed one goal in each of its first three games.

Leo Fernandes scored his first MLS goal last weekend seven minutes after entering as a substitute. The 22-year-old midfielder may see his role increase after he was loaned to Harrisburg City of USL Pro last season.

"He obviously has proven he belongs here this year," Hackworth said. "(He's) gotten his name called twice and has played very well."

Sebastien Le Toux assisted on Fernandes' goal after scoring his first of the year a week earlier. The veteran forward has two goals in four meetings with Montreal.

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