Montreal, QC – The Montreal Impact will host Toronto FC on Wednesday for the second time this season, but that does not mean that the match will take place under similar circumstances.
Montreal earned a 2-1 win over Toronto at the Olympic Stadium on April 7, but the two sides will square off at the Stade Saputo this time around after the Impact's new stadium opened a week-and-a-half ago.
The Impact have been on fire in their new home, defeating Seattle Sounders FC and the Houston Dynamo by a combined score of 8-3.
With Montreal's offense seemingly firing on all cylinders, it's a wonder why head coach Jesse Marsch would want to change anything. But when he has the chance to insert a seasoned veteran with loads of international experience into the starting XI to make his MLS debut, the choice is essentially already made.
Italian striker Marco Di Vaio signed with the Impact earlier this season as the club's first-ever Designated Player and he will make his debut in Wednesday's clash with rival Toronto FC.
"It will be emotional for me. For my first game, I hope to play well within the group," Di Vaio told the club's official website. "I've watched the team's last few games, and I feel comfortable with the system. My goal is to do everything I can to help my team win on Wednesday. I've been working really hard these past few weeks to be ready for this match."
Di Vaio has earned a glowing review from his coach despite joining the team just a few weeks ago.
"He's moved himself along fitness wise and he has gotten sharper since he's been here," said Marsch. "I think he will fit in right away with the group on the field.
"Soccer-wise, he is really smart. He's got a great eye around the goal for scoring or setting guys up. Having him here has been good in every way. He gives us a real threat around the goal and a better sense of savvy because of his quality."
Going up against Toronto is the ideal match for Di Vaio to break into the league.
Toronto operates with the most porous defense in the league, conceding an MLS- high 28 goals through 13 games. In its last two matches, TFC threw away two- goal leads to be denied maximum points in a 3-3 draw with Houston and a 2-2 draw with the New England Revolution.
The poor play from the back has Toronto head coach Paul Mariner calling for more leadership, especially from more experienced players like Richard Eckersley and Ashtone Morgan.
"Richard has played some games in England, so I guess he's got to start to become a leader now," Mariner said. "Ashtone's a Canadian international, he's got to start to become a leader now. Sometimes I think they're a little bit reticent."
Mariner doesn't place all of the blame on the backline though, saying that Toronto needs to defend better as a unit.
"Everybody's got their own jobs within the team, but it's a collective on the defensive side," he explained. "You've got to switch on. That's why it's called transition. We've all got to switch on it's that simple."