MONTREAL – Didier Drogba has – against his will – hogged the spotlight since joining the Montreal Impact. This, though, was a collective success.
Drogba does deserve praise for a complete performance, including the second goal, in Montreal's 3-0 win over the New England Revolution this Saturday at Stade Saputo. Still, his teammates know that he won’t score three goals every game as he did against the Chicago Fire two weeks ago so they stepped up accordingly.
Johan Venegas scored his first in MLS. Dilly Duka came off the bench to add the third – on a Drogba assist, it must be said. Calum Mallace showed fire going forward before he came off with a left foot injury. Ignacio Piatti played, well, like what Impact fans expect of Piatti.
“We don’t want to be a team that’s going to rely on one or two players, especially in attack,” Impact interim head coach Mauro Biello told reporters postgame. “We’ve seen that, on the defensive side, we have quality players that can hold the fort defensively. You want that contribution also in attack. Goals from Dilly and Venegas, it helps, it alleviates pressure, it builds confidence.”
The King himself had lamented the collective defensive performance in that 4-3 win over Chicago. This Saturday, a much cheerier Drogba saluted his team’s ability to shut down a top Eastern Conference team.
“The group has realized that we can play some big games without conceding goals,” Drogba said. “It’s a bit of a contrast from the game here against Chicago, when we conceded many. It’s good. We’re working to get that clean sheet, as we did today. We’re happier with the clean sheet than with the three goals scored, even though it pleases the fans to see those goals."
Drogba remains modest, but his presence does seem to have inspired his teammates. His touch to control Evan Bush’s punt in the 76th minute was magical, but Duka making the run to complete the play while down a man was no mean feat.
“It’s easy [to play with him],” Duka said. “He can hold up the ball, and he’s incredibly unselfish. It’s a huge positive to have a guy like that on our team. … And I can say I got an assist from Didier Drogba!”
And with Drogba, by his own account, still not 100 percent fit, Duka’s probably not the only one who’ll get to say this.