Drogba, Shipp set to join Impact for pre-season

Drogba is not at peak fitness, so his minutes will be carefully managed by coach Mauro Biello. (Graham Hughes/CP)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Montreal Impact arrived in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Monday for a pre-season tournament that will see them play four times in 11 days.

The Impact are among six Major League Soccer clubs to take part in the Tampa Bay Rowdies Invitational tournament, beginning with a match Wednesday against New York City. They are to face D.C. United on Saturday, Toronto FC on Feb. 24 and the Rowdies on Feb. 27.

Star striker Didier Drogba, who has been working with a trainer in Qatar, is to join camp on Tuesday, while recently acquired midfielder Harry Shipp was expected in late Monday.

The Impact ended a week of indoor workouts in Montreal on Saturday with a 1-1 draw in a scrimmage against their reserve team FC Montreal.

It was a busy weekend for the front office, which sent general and targeted allocation money to the Chicago Fire for Shipp on Saturday and sent right back Eric Miller to the Colorado Rapids for general allocation money and a 2018 first round draft pick the next day.

Shipp, 24, a popular home grown player with the Fire, posted an emotional farewell to his former team and city on social media after the trade.

In two seasons with Chicago, which finished last in the Eastern Conference in 2015, he had 10 goals and 14 assists in 66 regular season games, including 55 starts.

Many Fire fans were disappointed to see him go.

"It was a very, very difficult decision for us," the Fire’s new coach Veljko Paunovic told mlssoccer.com. "Harry is a fantastic kid.

"But again, we think it’s important, in this case, for the team and Harry, too. We can’t guarantee Harry he will play and have the role that he’s expecting. At this point, we had the situation where we had to decide. We believe Montreal can provide him with everything for him in order to be happy and play and enjoy soccer."

The Impact lost two midfielders in the off-season. Justin Mapp left as a free agent while Dilly Duka was not offered a contract, so there is playing time up for grabs for an attacking midfielder.

"He is a player who has already shown he can produce in this league and we feel that he will fit well into our team and into our style of play," said Impact technical director Adam Braz.

Miller, the fifth overall pick in the 2014 draft, played 30 games in two seasons for the Impact.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.