After escaping the Union's second goal, on more than one occasion, the Montreal Impact get one precious point out of PPL Park. Marco Di Vaio can be thanked again as he demonstrated yet again why he is one of the best strikers in MLS.
But Di Vaio continues to be the tree that hides the forest. Before facing the Philadelphia Union, the Impact had just lost three games in a row. Frank Klopas' men never seemed to gel as a unit. They were at best inconsistent.
If Di Vaio is a sturdy baobab, there are a few weak trees out there. And as the Impact is taking the long MLS road, Year 3 is an important crossroad. But a quiet off-season, too many X factors and an unstable head coaching situation is catching up to Montreal.
Outside of winning games and making the playoffs, there is no discernible sporting project. Changing coaches as easily as changing socks, the burden and responsibility of building the club falls on the shoulders of Nick de Santis.
With the important signing of Marco Di Vaio, back in the summer of 2012, De Santis brought in an older player that proved to the MLS that age is just a number. Scoring double digits in 2013 (20), he has proved to be the club's most important player.
But since, the Impact did not build on that momentum and surround the Goleador, as if the 2013 free fall was not enough of a sign. A lack of offensive options and depth is catching up to the Impact as expected. Could we even say that it was planned?
Looking back at the 1-1 tie over the weekend, the '' Di Vaio dependence'' has become unhealthy. In 2014, the Impact's spine is composed of Di Vaio, Troy Perkins and Justin Mapp.
Perkins continues to be called upon to make key saves, as it is expected. But anything outside extraordinary and the Impact suffer and lose games. With at least 3 key saves against the Union, Perkins is the rock that the club needs.
Mapp revived his career when he joined the team during the 2012 MLS expansion draft. If he does not create something out of nothing, the Impact's creativity department goes on strike. His 1-v-1 skills are one of the most dangerous in the league and his capacity to create space is remarkable.
Add Di Vaio to the mix and you have your 2014 spine. As Patrice Bernier is not 100% yet, more pressure is on Hernan Bernardello and Collen Warner to help shelter a back-line that did not get enough help during the off-season.
But there are too many absentees that are wearing the Bleu, Blanc, Noir, that are neither on the bench nor with the reserve team.
We are talking about the likes of Felipe Martins and Andres Romero that make up 2/3 of the Impact's ''offensive'' midfield.
If Felipe is unable to fill the role of a reliable offensive midfielder, Romero just seems as lost as he always was since joining the club. Outside a few games in 2013, the Argentinean has not shown to capacity to take on players, show speed on the wings or be a defensive reference on the left.
The positive result in Philadelphia will only temporarily mask the Impact's many weaknesses. It will need all the character and Grinta it showed in 2013 to help it survive in a difficult 2014 MLS season.
Until the club's X Factors decide to become reliable contributors on a regular basis, the club's lack of a clear sporting project will come back to haunt them quickly. What did the club exactly do during the off-season and preseason?
Until then, Marco Di Vaio will need to be the strong tree hiding a decrepit forest. One just hope that a spark will ignite the team to win under a clear sporting direction and not get burned by it.