Didier Drogba jumping into Evan Bush's arms at the final whistle encapsulated Saturday’s 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids in a nutshell.
Drogba has taken MLS by such storm, it seemed inevitable that he would become the Montreal Impact’s top scorer of the season. But his ninth goal – in as many games – could prove to be the most important. Montreal now enjoy a four-point lead over Orlando City SC for the final Eastern Conference spot in the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs.
- Match Recap: Drogba leads Montreal to playoff precipice
But for Drogba's goal to hold such significance, the Impact needed to keep the zero at the other end. And to do so, Bush pulled off a miracle of his own. Bush made a spectacular save at his right post in the game's waning moments, denying Rapids midfielder Lucas Pittinari's 20-yard effort through traffic to preserve the win – and leave fans behind the goal in utter shock.
“I had to stay balanced, so you’re not really cheating,” said Bush, to MLSsoccer.com by phone after the game. “Then, the fact is that with all those bodies, there was a good chance that it was going to take a deflection anyway. So if you start going down there, you can get caught. It came through clean, which was surprising with all the bodies in there, but fortunately, I managed to get across.
“We needed three points,” Bush continued. “It wasn’t like I was diving to that side. I was kind of leaning a little bit. I just came back across, and I think I would have been able to get across to the other side as well.”
It’s tough to bet against Bush – in his first full season as Montreal’s No. 1 ‘keeper, Bush has made a habit of coming up big in the dying moments. But this save on Pittinari ranks high in his personal pantheon.
“With where we are in the season, needing three points out of this, it was extremely important, and it’s probably the top one,” Bush said. “There were a couple of other ones, against Chicago and against Dallas, for sure, at the end of the games, too. But this one, with all the implications for the playoffs, it was probably the most important.”
The save may have been pretty, but the win wasn’t. Given the circumstances, Montreal won’t care. The game in Colorado marked their third in eight days, with grueling flight plans and limited options due to injury, suspension or international callup.
Where the air is thin, Montreal just needed to grind out the result they needed to breathe easier.
“We’re really confiden,” Bush said. “I don’t think we ever really lost our confidence. We lost the last two games, but I don’t think we lost our confidence. We're doing what we needed to do to get in the playoffs.”