MONTREAL (AP) — Marco Di Vaio scored in the final game of his 20-year career, helping the Montreal Impact to a 1-1 tie with D.C. United on Saturday in the regular-season finale for both teams.
The score in the 26th minute was Di Vaio’s ninth goal of the season and the 34th in 76 games since the former Italian Serie A striker became the Impact’s first designated player in 2012.
“To finish my career is a little bit sad, but this has been a big day for me and my family, so I’m happy,” Di Vaio said. “Scoring goals was my life, and this was the last time I will feel that emotion.
“But I received a lot of emotion from everyone in Montreal, inside and outside the stadium. I feel like a lucky guy.”
Fabian Espindola scored in the 86th minute for D.C. United (17-9-8), which closed the season with a six-game unbeaten string and finished first in the Eastern Conference.
Montreal (6-18-10) finished last in the East.
A heavy cold rain fell for the opening 30 minutes and again in the second half, sending Saputo Stadium fans for cover as players fought for footing on the slick grass.
Di Vaio looked to be offside when he took a feed from Dilly Duka and went in alone on the left side to slot a low shot past Bill Hamid in the first half.
He had another chance in the 52nd, but Sean Franklin cleared it away.
Espindola got the equalizer when he cut across the edge of the penalty area from the right side, made a sharp turn and fired a low shot to catch Evan Bush leaning the wrong way.
The 38-year-old Di Vaio had his two young daughters with him on the field when he was honored in a pregame ceremony. He was presented with a painting by teammate Issey Nakajima-Farran depicting the striker in his signature goal-celebration move, kissing the ring on his left hand.
“This painting will come with me to Italy in my house,” said Di Vaio, who is expected to take a job with his former team, Bologna FC, which was recently bought by a group that includes Impact president Joey Saputo.
Nakajima-Farran said the painting, which took 27 hours to complete, was called Taking Off The Tape, a reference to the tape Di Vaio put over the ring during games.
“He’s never going to take that tape off again,” Nakajima-Farran said. “We had all the guys sign the back, so it was a collective thing.
“All the players wanted to be part of it, so I think it’s a very personal present for him. He looked pretty happy. I was hoping he would cry, but he didn’t.”
Former Impact and Italy defender Alessandro Nesta, who had his own retirement game a year ago, was in attendance and was among a group of former teammates who saluted Di Vaio in Italian in scoreboard messages played at halftime.
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