MONTREAL – When the time came for reporters to invade the Montreal Impact locker room on Thursday after the team's Knockout Round victory, a well-intentioned communications manager reached for the iPod and turned the volume down.
“Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa!”
Yeah, the King seems okay.
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Drogba took his lumps again on Thursday as Montreal defeated Toronto FC by a 3-0 scoreline to capture their first playoff win in MLS. And once more, the crowd held its collective breath as Drogba left the field in the first half to get treatment.
But Drogba came straight back up, walking off the knock. And once more, he scored. Once more, he played 90 minutes.
“Didier knows how to manage himself,” interim head coach Mauro Biello told reporters postgame. “If I felt that he needed to come out and he was tired, I would have made that change. In the end, Nacho [Piatti] and Didier are important guys. They’re able to manage themselves. I felt that, in the middle, those guys ran a lot, and I'm going to need those guys to recover.”
While not the almighty demigod that he sometimes has looked like since joining MLS, Drogba contributed again on Thursday, converting a Patrice Bernier cross for the third of Montreal’s goals.
Drogba quipped that it was not such an impeccable game, what with three goals scored in the first half and none in the second half. But Drogba was certainly glad that his season didn’t end against a TFC team he was wary of.
“It was tough to pull off such a good performance after the game a couple of days ago against the same team,” Drogba said. “It's always tricky, because that was a league game, and the other team was upset with the result. We were expecting a reaction from Toronto. In the end, we took the game the right way.
“[Piatti and Bernier] were important to complete plays,” Drogba continued. “But the whole squad enhances them. The whole squad allows us to play games like these, to score. It’s a group working. Of course, individualities are showcased, often attacking players like Nacho, like me, like Pat [Bernier] who really likes to go forward. But our full backs, our center backs, Donadel, Bush don’t get enough credit.”
Drogba, as always, was all about the team. This group’s togetherness was amplified some more when team captain Bernier, after scoring, pulled out an Andres Romero jersey. If not for his surgery for a torn ACL on Wednesday morning, Romero, too, would have been dancing.
“He’s part of the team,” Bernier said of Romero. “He’s down now, like many others. He’s not here with us now, but he’s here in our hearts. We had to show that he contributed, and that we’re in this together.”