Inspired by Nicholas Rosano's piece on MLSSoccer.com , let's ask ourselves the question: Can Marco Di Vaio be a 20-goal scorer in MLS?
Comparables: Class of 2013
There was only one 20-goal scorer in the 2013 MLS season and it was Chris Wondolowski , who was also named the league's MVP in 2012.
Nicholas Rosano of MLSSoccer.com
The feat that has only been accomplished three times in the last 10 seasons - Luciano Emilio hit 20 in 2007, as did Landon Donovan in 2008, and of course there's Chris Wondolowski's 27 in 2012. Before that, there were six 20-goal scorers between 1996 and 2002, meaning that the next player to do it will be just the 10th player in history to reach that impressive threshold.
It is already hard to score 20 goals in most professional soccer leagues and Major League Soccer is no exception. Only three 20-goal scorers (or more) in the last 10 seasons proves how hard it is to score goals even with the talented pool of forwards that come to North America.
Rosano has a few strikers in mind to hit the 20-goal mark: Chris Wondolowski, Robbie Keane , Will Bruin and Alvaro Saborio. All four play in strong teams with a chemistry that has been built for a while. It is no surprise that SJ, LA, Houston and Salt Lake have prolific strikers among their ranks. With a history of playoff berths, regular season success, having a contender ,or at least build one, is good to be part of.
Out of the list, Robbie Keane is probably the most complete and talented striker of the bunch. Scoring 16 goals while playing in the 2012 EURO is a feat by itself. Keane is an excellent reference in how to be a versatile striker while adapting to different teams and different leagues.
Where does that put Marco Di Vaio?
The Striker Within
|Montreal||Major League Soccer||2012||17||5|
With a great season in 2008-2009 (24 goals in Bologna FC), Di Vaio proved that he was not done. Putting himself back on the map in Serie A, the Italian striker was looking for another adventure an a good sales pitch by Joey Saputo brought him to North America.
Coming mid-season in 2012, Di Vaio scores 5 goals in 17 games which extrapolates to 10 goals over a full season. Looking back at clear scoring chances that were not converted, it is definitively not a stretch to expect much more from Di Vaio in 2013.
With a full off-season to rest and to get back into shape for a 30+-game season, Di Vaio is putting the chances on his side to sprint out of the blocks on March 2nd.
Importance of a Supporting Cast
The aforementioned strikers and others usually have top-notch skills but also have a top-notch supporting cast. From a team concept to 1 excellent play maker , the forward needs help...yes even Zlatan.
Marco Schällibaum has been toying between the 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 formations and only one striker is playing upfront. Whether Sanna Nyassi is on the field at the same time or not , it does not change Di Vaio's objective: Score Goals.
With excellent passers in Felipe Martins and Patrice Bernier, feeding the ball to Di Vaio should not be a challenge. Add his old buddy from Bologna, Andrea Pisanu and you should be in business. Justin Mapp offers a good option on the left even though his timing and chemistry with the Impact's DP was not at its best. But will the Impact have a more complete game to diversify its attacks?
What has changed since 2012?
(*) Marco Di Vaio has had a full off-season to rest and be ready for a grueling MLS season.
(*) Higher Expectations: His DP status will definitively have more weight as he starts the season on Game 1. It's not the fans' or the media's money paying his salary (at least no directly) but he was brought in to score goals.
(*) Joey Saputo's and Nick De Santis' expectations: Same Philosophy, Same Vision but with a new coaching staff to implement that philosophy on the pitch. They did not believe in Jesse Marsch's way of doing things and Di Vaio is the biggest representative of the club on and off the pitch.
(*) This might be the last year for Marco Di Vaio as his contract expires at the end of 2013. Will he go out with hurrah with his best friend, Alessandro Nesta, by his side?