MONTREAL — The weather conditions might not have been ideal at all, but it still felt like a perfect night of soccer at Stade Saputo on Saturday, as the Montreal Impact were indomitable in a 3-0 win over the New England Revolution.
Even if was rather muggy and the rain fell hard—as if determined to do so—nothing, it seemed, would deter another vivacious sold out crowd from having a good time. As an old Italian alpine song says, “what does it matter that I have broken shoes, if when I look at you my heart is content?”
If Dider Drogba keeps playing the way that he has, then nature can make it rain all that it wants. No Impact fan will mind.
He might not have scored a hat trick, like he did in his first start against Chicago two weeks ago, but Drogba showed his effectiveness and was terribly exciting to watch.
Evidently, Drogba’s chemistry with his Impact teammates is getting better with every game. He was named man of the match for his contributions to two goals—his deflected free kick that gave the Impact a two-goal cushion in the second half; his brilliant control and lay off for Dilly Duka, which helped put the game beyond reach—but it was his link up play and ability to maintain possession that had the Impact raving most of all.
“He’s a big number nine who’s capable of holding on to the ball, and I think we didn’t have that before,” coach Mauro Biello remarked after the game. “(Domenic) Oduro is another style who looks for runs in behind and Didier is someone who can hold on to the ball and help the team rise up the field, and that adds another dynamic to our attack when he has the ball.”
Goalkeeper Evan Bush made the same observation.
“Drogba does a lot of things outside of scoring goals too,” He said. “He helps the team get out of our own zone and that goes unnoticed a lot. His scoring goals and getting assists is very important obviously, but his ability to help us move our team up the field is probably been the biggest thing for us”.
In his desire to entertain and delight, Drogba’s arrival has helped change the mood at the Impact. The team isn’t just playing better; it’s playing with a smile. For the first time, it seems, they’re having fun. And having scored so many goals in his career and won so many games, the man knows how to celebrate: it comes naturally to him.
Johan Venegas opens the scoring early in the first half, his first goal with the Impact, and runs to the corner flag to do a little hip dance; Drogba casually moves in alongside him and does the same.
Drogba stops for a second, as if stunned, when his free kick is deflected into the net for the second goal, then he suddenly runs to the goal line for a knee slide and then falls on his back.
Duka scores the third goal, but it’s Drogba who leads the merrymaking, gesturing everyone to come and join him on the goal line once again, but this time for hugs and embraces with the teammates warming up just off the field.
After the game, the Impact locker room is a zoo of excitement. Drogba’s energy is contagious.
There are a few groans as the television screens hanging below the ceiling show Orlando City score the late winning goal against Chicago, a sign that a playoff spot isn’t yet completely secure and that there’s still some work to be done.
There are some other concerns too like with Ignacio Piatti struggling for form and the Impact’s continued propensity for unruliness (Marco Donadel was sent off in the second half), but all in all it was a tremendous night. Playing as unit, with spirit and determination, the team continues to improve under Biello, who remains undefeated ever since taking over.
And then there’s Drogba, the Impact’s very own force of nature. He might not have the power to stop a storm, but he can sure create one of his own.