That’s asking a lot when the MLS schedule gets hectic in July, when there’s two games a week, often played in temperatures in excess of 30 C. It’s the heat and the travel that often gets to many European transplants. Heck, I remember how often new recruits to Toronto FC would comment about the first time they’d play a summer road game in Houston, almost not believing that you could play soccer in those kind of conditions.
As has been rumoured for weeks, the Impact confirmed Thursday that Di Vaio, who has scored 142 career goals in Serie A, will become the first Designated Player in the club’s history. Di Vaio is 35, and is leaving Bologna, where he scored a decent 10 goals and added seven assists in 37 games.
But, Di Vaio is coming off a full Serie A campaign and, instead of taking a summer off, will be flung into more games. And the question will be how a 35-year-old body can hold up.
He will join the Impact on June 27, which means he will his cap hit will only be half of the basic US$335,000 that’s assigned to Designated Players.
“Since his departure from Bologna and the announcement that the he was considering an offer from the Impact, we continued to work hard at getting him to join our club. I’d like to congratulate Nick De Santis for this successful negotiation,” said Impact president Joey Saputo in a release issued by the club. “With all of the hard work and professionalism our club has shown over the years, we have signed today a player of the highest quality. We promised this city and the club’s supporters a Designated Player, and we are pleased to have been able to keep that promise.”
The cynic will note that, as soon as the deal was made official, that the Impact was already selling Di Vaio No. 9 jerseys on its website. But that’s part of the business of Designated Players.
But, for a club in its first year of MLS, it’s interesting to see that it has decided to bring in so much thirtysomething talent up top. Let’s face it, these players aren’t going to be in Montreal as the club moves forward in the years to come. It tells you either that the Impact believes it is closer to contending in the East than many pundits outside of Montreal would think, or that marketing and the desire for glamour is being injected into what should be a plan for the future.
But, this is MLS, where you can go from worst to first and back to worst again in a short period of time. Rises (and falls) tend to be meteoric in this league. All you have to do is watch the Philadelphia Union’s Yo-Yo over the last three seasons to see how that’s true.