Saturday afternoon at Stade Saputo was a special game for everyone involved as it was the last game for designated player Marco Di Vaio in an Impact jersey. Di Vaio announced earlier this fall that this season would be his last in the MLS. So it was fitting that Di Vaio scored the lone goal of the game for Montreal in a 1-1 draw.
It has been a very difficult 2014 season for the Montreal Impact and Saturdays game was the last of the MLS season. The Impact squared off against Eastern Conference leaders DC United. The team from the District of Columbia were in a similar position to Montreal last season and have been able to make a three-hundred and sixty degree turn this year.
With the rain pouring down yet again at Stade Saputo the game proved to be sloppy for both teams during long stretches. One player that impressed throughout the game was Canadian International Issey Nakajima-Farran. The Calgary born midfielder brought some much needed intensity to the Impact, a trait they have been lacking throughout the course of the season.
Marco Di Vaio also looked locked in during the first half of the game, and was set up in the 26th minute by Dilly Duka to slot home a classic Di Vaio goal. Impact supporters will certainly miss Di Vaio's lethal scoring touch around the net next season.
With the halftime whistle sounding Montreal went into the locker room leading 1-0. In the final half of season for the Impact the young defence attempted to hold the Eastern Conference leaders at bay. For the most part the back line of Tissot, Lefevre, Ouimette, and Miller did well over the course of the afternoon.
However in the 59th minute Tissot was forced off through injury and Krzysztof Krol was brought in the replace the young defender. As the game wore on, the pressure mounted on the Montreal back line and in the 86th minute Fabian Espindola tied the game up with a shot from outside the box that beat Evan Bush. Finishing out games has hurt the Impact throughout the 2014 season and the late game collapse cost them again.
The 93rd minute saw Marco Di Vaio subbed off for the final time in an Impact jersey, an emotional moment for both players and fans in attendance. Although perhaps not recognized by the league, Di Vaio should be celebrated as one of the most successful designated players the league has signed.
His commitment to both the club and the local community should be commended. Marco Di Vaio has set the bar extremely high for future designated players both in Montreal and across the league.
With the regular season now over for the impact, the club will host their post-mortum press conference on Monday before parting ways until the new year. There will be many difficult questions facing the Impact in the offseason and lots of room for improvement.