MONTREAL -- In the salary cap world of MLS, a club can’t buy strikers just for fun, unlike certain – some would say all – European giants.
So when the Montreal Impact signed forward Daniele Paponi on loan from Bologna, the question was not if, but when he would play an MLS game. The answer could be this Saturday, as the Impact face the Chicago Fire at Stade Saputo. He could thus join forces with his former captain at Bologna, Marco Di Vaio, for the first time since September 11, 2011 (Fiorentina 2-0 Bologna).
Paponi played 30 minutes against Toronto FC on Wednesday, but he admitted the next day that he wasn’t feeling 100 percent fit yet. Starting against Frank Klopas’ side might be a stretch, but he has been sending good signals to the Impact staff.
“We had a chat after the [Toronto] game and he said he was feeling fine,” assistant coach Mauro Biello told reporters on Friday. “Needing time to adapt when you join a team is normal. He’s in shape, he works very hard and, if he was able to play 30, then he can give us more going forward.”
Marco Di Vaio has been enjoying a strong start to his second MLS season, hitting the back of the net three times and constantly playing with the opposition defense’s minds with his positioning.
The opposition understandably mark Di Vaio tighter with each game, and a strike partner like Paponi would likely take pressure off Di Vaio or at least enjoy more space. Biello did admit that Montreal needed more options to create chances and score, but whether or not Montreal play with one or two forwards from the start, defender Hassoun Camara said, what matter is how you actually make plays.
“You can put five forwards on, but if they all keep the same line, the same shape, there’s no movements, no angles,” Camara said. “How we will make plays going forward will be interesting tomorrow. The coaches did their job. It’s up to us, players, to respond tomorrow and play the game as we should.”