Forward Marco Di Vaio could only sit and watch as the Montreal Impact lost their first three games of the Major League Soccer season.
But now that Di Vaio and midfielder Andres Romero have served their three-game suspensions for a melee in a 2013 playoff game, the Italian striker is ready to get back to the business of scoring goals.
"I'll try to bring something more, some experience, to the field," Di Vaio said Thursday. "I trained hard the last three weeks and I want to play."
The scoring touch that saw him amass 20 goals last season – all in open play, no penalties -- was clearly lacking as the Impact opened with losses of 3-2 in Dallas, 1-0 in Houston and 2-0 to Seattle in their home opener at Olympic Stadium last week.
The 38-year-old, who will see his first action Saturday when the Impact play the Union in Philadelphia, cautioned that he can't turn the club's fortunes around on his own. It will be his first competitive game in five months.
"I hear that people are expecting us to get points because me and Romero are returning, but it's not just two players that are going to change everything," he said.
"I have to do my job -- try to score and be dangerous -- but the most important thing is that the team keeps it's confidence because when you lose a game, sometimes you think what you're doing on the field is no good. I see every day the team is training really well, with a good attitude."
Andrew Wenger filled in for Di Vaio up front and had a goal against Dallas, but for the most part, the Impact created plenty of chances that went wanting for someone with the goal-scorer's knack.
Leading the attack
Montreal leads MLS with 57 shot attempts and 20 shots on goal, with midfielder Felipe Martins at the top with 13 shots.
Defender Heath Pearce only joined the Impact this season, but the former New York Red Bull knows what Di Vaio can bring to a match.
"He's a great goal scorer and he's a really busy and active player on the field," said Pearce. "It's always good to have someone like that who always wants the ball -- a guy who gets mad when he doesn't get the ball all the time.
"That's the kind of guy you want making big plays in the tough moments for your team."
The suspension stemmed from an ugly 3-0 loss in Houston in the Impact's first MLS playoff match in October. Late in the game, Romero touched off a skirmish by kicking an opponent. Di Vaio took a red card when he jumped into the fracas.
It wasn't clear whether Romero will play in Philadelphia, but his return gives coach Frank Klopas an extra option. The Argentine played mainly on the left wing last season.
"It's never easy for players being out, especially when you look at Marco," said Klopas. "It's kind of crazy, the three-game suspension he got, but his attitude has been great and he's worked extremely hard."
The Union may be the ideal opponent for Di Vaio, who scored four times in three matches against them last season, including a hat-trick in a 5-3 win on May 25 in Montreal.