MONTREAL – Didier Drogba had just scored three goals in his first MLS start. He didn’t keep his jersey as a souvenir. He didn’t swap jerseys with a Chicago Fire player. Instead, he walked to the East End of Stade Saputo, where an orange “Drogba Legend” banner hung, harking back to his Chelsea FC days at Stamford Bridge.
Drogba gave his jersey to a fan. But then, he had to grab another, because many other fans had voted him the Man of the Match, and he elected to present the trophy to the crowd after Montreal’s 4-3 win.
“The crowd was amazing,” Drogba told reporters post-game. “And, you know, this Man of the Match [trophy] that they gave me at the end, it’s for them. I give it to them.”
On Saturday, Stade Saputo was quite simply the loudest it had ever been – in peaks, of course, because that's what happens when a game finishes 4-3. The Fire gave the Montreal fans cold sweats throughout, especially after taking a 3-2 lead.
But Drogba replied to that with two goals to complete his perfect hat trick: a left-footer and a header to go with his first MLS goal, scored with his right.
“What can I say? What a performance from Didier,” Impact interim head coach Mauro Biello said, praising Drogba’s work on and off the ball. “He’s such a committed person. He’s won everywhere. He came here with a great spirit, with such a will to win. And we saw that tonight.”
Drogba himself said he was satisfied with the points – not so much with the performance.
“For me, it’s not a good result,” Drogba said. “The most important thing is that you get the three points, but when you look at the game itself, you know we’ve got a lot of things to change and to work on. There’s always room for improvement in this team.”
Especially when you’ve just given up three goals. But on the other hand, Montreal's offense showed glimpses of what it could have been. Justin Mapp, on his first start back from injury, brought a spark that created space for the likes of Ignacio Piatti and Drogba.
Montreal fans just have to hope that Mapp can carry on doing that for Drogba in the near future. While Drogba playing 90 minutes was positive, the pain in his injured toe wasn’t. With two away games at Los Angeles and San Jose looming, a fit and prepared Drogba is a must.
“It’s still painful, even more now,” Drogba said of his injury. “But we’ve got a few days to rest, get some treatment and be ready for the next game.”