Drogba introduced in Montreal

Image: AFP

For some, Major League Soccer serves as a glorified retirement home for once legendary players now entering the twilight of their careers. The league provided aging legends with a cushy paycheck and a chance for them to ride off into the sunset as they eased out of their playing days. Didier Drogba didn’t get the retirement message, apparently.

The 37-year-old striker joined the Montreal Impact in July on a one-and-a-half year deal and has quickly become one of the deadliest strikers in the league. Despite playing in less than a third of the Impact’s matches, Drogba finished the season as the team’s top scorer with 12 goals in 12 matches. His ridiculous run of form after joining Montreal was one of the main reasons that the Impact was able to advance to the playoffs after finishing last in their conference last season.

When Drogba was at his best playing for Chelsea, he looked unstoppable. The Ivorian played with such passion and strength that few, if any, defenders in the world could keep him contained for a full 90-minute match. His nine-year career at Chelsea saw him score more than 150 goals while helping the Blues win four Premier League titles, four FA Cups and their first ever Champions League crown.

When the Chelsea legend signed for the Impact, I don’t think that anyone really expected him to bring that same fight and power to MLS. The North American-based league doesn’t possess nearly the same level of prestige or talent level that Drogba had grown accustomed to during his European travels, and at 37, could people really expect him to grind through the final stages of the season? Well, Drogba has done all he can to ease any of these concerns.

From the start of his latest adventure, Drogba has looked a level above the rest of the league. In his first ever start for Montreal, he scored a hat-trick that showed the league he still had the strength and desire to dominate. During a playoff game against Canadian rivals Toronto FC, the Ivorian managed to score not one, but two, backheeled goals in a matter of minutes to win the match. On his day, I’m not sure if there are any defenders in MLS that can compete with Drogba.

Now it’s time to look at the potential negatives coming for the rest of Drogba’s relatively short time in Major League Soccer. During his time at Chelsea, the striker was lucky to go a full season without battling injuries or disciplinary issues of some kind. While his next season with the Impact won’t be cluttered with as many games and competitions as his one’s with Chelsea were, it’s still going to require Drogba to play 40+ games. I know I keep harping on his age, but with Drobga edging closer and closer to 40, it’s hard to imagine him being on the field for every game the Impact play.

Next year will give fans a chance to see how an aging Drogba can handle a full season with the Impact. While it seems unlikely that he will be able to replicate his amazing form from the end of this campaign, it’s not too much of a stretch to expect him to be one of the most talented players in the league. Even with his age, Drogba still brings an unmatched level of experience and leadership to the Impact and I believe that he’s fully capable of leading them back to the playoffs next year.


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