Didier Drogba didn’t score a farewell goal, but Montreal Impact fans got one last chance to cheer the Chelsea legend after the club’s 3-2 playoff victory over Toronto FC.
Drogba made it official after the match on Tuesday night that he will not stay on with the Impact after his contract expires at the end of the year, although the 38-year-old did not say if his playing career is over.
“This was my last game here, so now let’s focus on the final,” said Drogba. “There is still one, maybe two games to go.
“Let’s talk about next week’s game. That is more important.”
The Impact take a one-goal lead into the second leg of the two-game, aggregate goals MLS Eastern Conference final on Nov. 30 at BMO Field in Toronto. If Montreal wins, Drogba will have a chance to play another match in the MLS Cup final on Dec. 10.
Whatever happens, the opening leg, played at Olympic Stadium before a full house of 61,004, was Drogba’s last home appearance for the team he helped transform into a championship contender when he signed in July 2015.
He went on as a substitute in the 71st minute and had a good scoring chance that he pushed just wide.
After the game, the Impact paid tribute to the Ivorian with an on-field presentation and a highlight video of his time with the club shown on the stadium scoreboard. It included video of the huge chanting and dancing crowd that greeted him at Trudeau Airport when he first arrived in Montreal.
Not disappointing his fans
Drogba did not disappoint his fans. He had 11 goals in 11 games for the Impact in 2015, helping them reach the playoffs, where they got to the conference semifinals for the first time.
He scored another 10 this season, but while struggling with back problems, lost his starting job to newcomer Matteo Mancosu. He walked out on the team for a game in October after learning he was not in the starting 11, but returned and has since accepted his role as a late substitution.
Then he helped the Impact upset the first-place New York Red Bulls to reach the conference final.
“I had one and a half years of good emotions,” he said of his time in Montreal. “I think we made history.
“For the first time, we went to the semifinals, against Columbus, and this year we are in the conference finals. It’s good progress.”