A statement game by Drogba, Impact in Chicago


Didier Drogba. (Graham Hughes/AP)

What will please the Impact the most about Didier Drogba’s goal on Saturday, which helped Montreal come from behind to beat the Chicago Fire 2-1, won’t be so much the finish, as delightful as it was, but rather what the Ivorian did a few moments before.

It was by Drogba’s initiative that the whole scoring sequence had been created: his pressuring run towards the Chicago goal following a back pass forced Fire goalkeeper Matt Lampson to turn the ball over, and the Impact capitalized on the ensuing counter attack.

That wasn’t the only moment where Drogba exerted himself for the team. Throughout the 40 minutes that he played in the second half as a substitute, he offered support, he made runs, he chased down opponents, and he encouraged his teammates.

When Ignacio Piatti scored the brilliant winning goal in stoppage time Drogba eagerly joined him for the celebrations; when the final whistle blew a few minutes later, Drogba brought the players together to revel in their triumph.

The endeavour the 38-year-old striker showed against Chicago will have helped begin to dispel concerns about whether or not he is indeed eager to be back with the Impact and playing again for one final season.

The movement he showed on the field might even have been the most we have seen from Drogba since his arrival to Quebec last fall. Perhaps the recent reports from the Daily Mail, alleging that the Ivorian’s charity fund has been spending money on lavish fundraising parties rather than infrastructure projects in the Ivory Coast (allegations that he has flatly denied), has given Drogba extra motivation, an extra step in his game—that would only be a good thing for Montreal.

More positive on the road
What was also significant about the win was that it was only the second time that the Impact have managed to come from behind to beat an opponent away from home in MLS—the other time they were able to do this was on June 1, 2013 in a 2-1 win over Kansas City.

The Impact’s road struggles have had a lot to do with not being able to impose themselves on their opponents and maintain a good rhythm of play. Also, as soon as they would go down a goal, they wouldn’t have the ability to change gears and put their opponents under pressure.

Against Chicago, albeit against one of the weaker sides in the league, Montreal played with a winning mentality and a sense of urgency. After going down a goal, they were able to up the tempo of their play and force the Fire back.

“In the second half, we played with more rhythm and created more chances,” Drogba said after the game. “We wanted to pull off a great result here. We wanted to win. We’re top of the conference, and we have to show more ambition on the road. This win does us a lot of good.”

Adopting a similar positive approach henceforth, there’s no reason why the Impact can’t have more success on the road this year with the quality they have in the attacking third—especially with Drogba on board.

Soccer Central Podcast

Sportsnet’s Soccer Central podcast, hosted by James Sharman, takes an in-depth look at the beautiful game and offers timely and thoughtful analysis on the sport’s biggest issues.

Listen now | iTunes | Subscribe to the podcast

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.