Drogba to help Phoenix Rising chase MLS dream by joining USL side on three-year contract – report

Didier Drogba looks to have found himself a new club at last. The Ivorian striker has been without a team since leaving Montreal Impact at the end of his contract in December but looks set to remain in North America with USL club Phoenix Rising.

The 39-year-old has signed a three-year contract with the Arizona-based side, according to France Football, and will have the option to become the club’s sporting director from the second season onwards.

Phoenix Rising FC – who were formerly known as Arizona United before this season and are owned by a group including American DJ Diplo – have been making headlines over the past few months as they look to prove they mean business as they grow on and off the field.

Phoenix is one of 12 cities fighting for four MLS Expansion spots as the league looks to expand to 28 teams over the next few years. If Drogba has indeed signed – and more importantly signed with a clause allowing him to become a director – then the move makes a lot more sense than it does on the surface.

The former Chelsea star had long been linked with a return to the West London club in a coaching role but it would appear his future off the pitch could now be based in the USA.

Drogba reportedly turned down an offer from Brazilian side Corinthians, instead choosing to join former Chelsea teammate Shaun Wright-Phillips and former Mexico international Omar Bravo in Phoenix.

The USL club opened their 2017 season with a 1-0 home loss to a Toronto FC II side this weekend, playing in front of a sell-out crowd in their home opener at their brand new soccer specific stadium.

The club have permission to build a climate-controlled stadium on their current plot of land, that would seat between 20,000 and 30,000 fans if they are given an MLS team in the current round of bidding.

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MLS Playoffs Preview and Prediction: Toronto FC vs Montreal Impact

Competition: MLS Playoffs (Eastern Conference Final – Second Leg) Toronto FC vs. Montreal Impact 

Venue: BMO Field – Wednesday, November 30 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)

Match Odds: Toronto FC 8/15 – Draw 3/1 – Montreal Impact 9/2

Match Preview

Toronto and Montreal Impact are set for a thrilling encounter on Wednesday night, with a place in the MLS Cup Final up for grabs as they lock horns in the Eastern Conference Championship second leg.

The winner of Tuesday’s game will face Seattle in the 2016 MLS Cup Final, where a first-time winner is guaranteed. If Toronto advance, they will host the final, but Seattle will play hosts if the Impact progress. 

Toronto come into the second leg 3-2 down after a nightmare hour to forget in the game in Montreal. The tie looked like it could have been out of their reach but Greg Vanney’s side showed why you cannot write them off as they scored twice in the last half hour to set up this incredible return clash.

Given the fightback from Toronto they now look favourites to advance, but there is still plenty of work to do here against a Montreal side who will be kicking themselves for letting such a vital lead go in front of their own fans.

Toronto have been impressive at BMO Field in 2016. They have won their last three home games but worryingly they did lose to Montreal the last time they welcomed them here. Nothing other than a victory will see Toronto advance to their first MLS Cup Final.

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Montreal Impact will be itching to ensure they do not miss out on the final now. They have improved year-on-year and reaching their first MLS Cup Final would be another part of their history that will never be forgotten.

Mauro Biello needs to make sure his side are calm from the get-go here. They still have that one-goal lead, so they need to play their normal game and shape up defensively against a strong Toronto attack.

There will be added emotion for the Impact squad as this could be the last time Didier Drogba plays, and while there have been some ups and downs in his short spell at the club, he will be missed. The Ivorian will want to sign off at the club in style, like he has done throughout his career, so losing this will not be an option for him and the rest of the squad.

Montreal’s task is far from simple and they know they cannot afford to allow Toronto time on the ball, so high-press is an option. Breaking up play and countering will make Impact dangerous and difficult to deal with. They will be out to grab a couple of away goals, as Toronto did at the Olympic Stadium last weekend.

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Team News

Vanney has a completely fit squad for this tie. He will be expecting maximum effort from his starting XI to ensure they make it through and pull off an impressive comeback.

Andres Romero remains Montreal’s only injury concern. Biello will be unlikely to unsettled the balance of his squad too much going into this one, but there may well be some defensive changes in an attempt to tighten up that backline.

Key Points

Toronto FC’s last five: W/W/W/W/L

Montreal Impact’s last five: L/W/W/W/W

Key Stat: Form – Toronto have won their last three home matches.

Key Player: Sebastian Giovinco – The stage is set for Giovinco to show his class once again. If he is presented with even a sniff at goal he is likely to find the back of the net. Toronto need him now more than ever if they’re to make the final.

Photo: Toronto FC

Photo: Toronto FC

Score Prediction

Toronto FC 2-0 Montreal Impact – Toronto to make the most of their firepower and pick apart the Montreal defence on home soil. It will be a sour end to the season for Montreal if they are to exit the playoffs here considering the commanding position they were in and it will be some turnaround if Toronto can pull it off.

MLS Playoffs Preview and Prediction: Montreal Impact vs Toronto FC

Competition: MLS Playoffs (Eastern Conference Final – First Leg) Montreal Impact vs. Toronto FC

Venue: Olympic Stadium – Tuesday, November 22nd – 20:00 ET (01:00 GMT)

Match Odds: Montreal Impact 11/8 – Draw 9/4 – Toronto FC 15/8

Match Preview

Montreal Impact welcome Toronto FC to Olympic Stadium on Tuesday evening in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Final, with a Canadian side guaranteed to make the MLS Cup Final for the first time ever.

This is a huge game for both of these rivals. Montreal have to make the most of home advantage and ensure they go into the second leg in a strong position, which will be easier said than done.

The Impact overcame the Red Bulls 3-1 on aggregate in the Conference Semifinal, a result that will have filled Mauro Biello’s squad with confidence.

This is the first time Montreal have reached the Eastern Conference Championship game so there is the added incentive to make even more history and reach the MLS Cup Final now.

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Toronto FC are also creating history. Before this year they had never won a playoff game. Greg Vanney’s side advanced to the Eastern Conference Championship they after completely destroyed NYCFC 7-0 on aggregate, a result that will never be forgotten.

While the squad will still be flying high off the back of that result, their attention must turn to making sure they go into the second leg after a positive performance away at Montreal on Tuesday.

Toronto fans will be praying their side avenges their elimination from the 2015 playoffs last season by Montreal and they are favourites to advance over the two legs.

If recent history is anything to go by for Toronto they stand a good chance of a favourable result here, as they are unbeaten in their last three visits to Stade Saputo in all competitions, drawing twice and winning one.

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Team News

Andres Romero remains out for Montreal Impact, while both Didier Drogba and Matteo Mancosu are both doubts to start. Drogba, though, is back in the picture after a month out.

Vanney has the pleasure of picking his side from a near fully fit squad as Steven Beitashour is his only injury concern ahead of the first leg.

Key Points

Montreal Impact’s form: D/L/W/W/W

Toronto FC’s form: D/W/W/W/W

Key Stat: Toronto FC have scored at least two goals in their last five MLS away games.

Key Player: Ignacio Piatti – The Montreal playmaker will be expected to provide and help his side take a lead into the second leg. This is going to be an extremely tough tie to win over both legs for Montreal, so they have to be in a strong position come the end of the first 90 minutes and Piatti will look to provide some magic once again.

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Score Prediction

Montreal Impact 1-1 Toronto FC – This is going to be a tight affair, neither side is going to want to give the other an advantage heading into the second leg, but a draw is a more favourable result for Toronto than Montreal, who will be desperate to win this one.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Montreal Impact vs Philadelphia Union

Competition: Major League Soccer – Montreal Impact vs. Philadelphia Union

Stadium: Stade Saputo – Saturday, May 14 – 17:00 ET (22:00 GMT)

Match Odds: Montreal 4/5 – Draw 13/5 – Philadelphia 100/30

Match Preview

Montreal Impact welcome Philadelphia Union to Stade Saputo this weekend in a key clash at the top of the Eastern Conference.

Montreal sit top of the East by one point. They come into this one off the back of their amazing second-half comeback away at Columbus, drawing 4-4 after being 4-1 down.

Mauro Biello’s side became the eighth team in MLS history to fight back from three goals down to earn at least a point and are looking in good shape.

However, the Impact have now drawn three on the bounce and will be looking to get back to winning ways here. They have only lost once at home in their four outings this season and will be confident of picking up a result.

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Philadelphia Union have been in a strong run of form coming into this tie. They are unbeaten in their last three games, winning one and drawing two and have only lost once in their last five.

The Union drew 2-2 with the Galaxy on Wednesday night and will be looking to extend their run here but know this is going to be a difficult tie, especially after a day’s less rest. They have won just one of their four games on the road in the 2016 campaign so far.

Jim Curtin’s side sit second in the East, trailing Montreal by one point, but they do have a game in hand so they’ll be looking to close the gap.

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Team News

Montreal Impact have five injury concerns ahead of this tie. Andres Romero, Cameron Porter, Donny Toia, Anthony Jackson-Hamel and Hassoun Camara are expected to miss out. Biello has no suspensions or players nearing suspension.

Philadelphia Union have two injury concerns. Maurice Edu is out, while Ken Tribbett is a doubt. Curtin also has no players nearing suspension to worry about.

Key Points

Montreal Impact’s form: W/L/D/D/D

Philadelphia Union’s form: W/L/W/D/D

Key Stat: Homesick – Philadelphia have lost three of their four away matches so far this season.

Key Player: Ignacio Piatti – It seems Piatti is the man to watch in all of Montreal’s games this season. He played a vital role in his side’s comeback last time out, scoring twice. He has netted six goals in the 2016 regular season.

MLS: New York City FC vs. Montreal Impact Ignacio Piatti

Score Prediction

Montreal Impact 2-1 Philadelphia Union – Montreal to remain top of the East after another win at Stade Saputo. The Union have been in a great run of form but their struggles on the road could cost them here.

MLS Fantasy Focus: Make the most of the DGW ahead of Round 10

By Jamie Dawe and Sam Martin

The headlines from Round 9 have all been about Kei Kamara and Federico Higuain’s mid-game row. Their exchange of words over a penalty that would have secured Kamara his hat trick – but was eventually taken by Higuain – is a story that has travelled around the world. It marred an incredible eight-goal game, but in this week’s Fantasy Focus, we promise to focus on the football being played, not the spats off the ball!

Round 9 Review 

The Good:

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The MAPFRE Stadium, home to Columbus Crew, undoubtedly provided us with the game of the weekend, where an incredible eight goals were scored in the 4-4 draw between the Crew and Montreal Impact. It had been a disappointing start to the season for Columbus, but two goals from both Kei Kamara ($11.1) and Federico Higuaín ($10.5) put Columbus 4-1 up with just over 30 minutes to play. Remarkably, the Impact came back from the dead to salvage a point thanks to Ignacio Piatti ($10.6), Didier Drogba ($11.8) and a last minute goal from Dominic Oduro ($7.6). We have once again entered the familiar territory of Piatti gaining the most points of any player this week – with an astounding 18! While Montreal may top the Eastern Conference, Colorado Rapids are the shock leaders of the Supporters’ Shield standings, following a 1-0 home victory against an equally impressive Real Salt Lake. Jermaine Jones ($8.2) netted the goal that was the difference between the two sides to earn his side three crucial points and further cement his place as one of the league’s top players even after his unceremonious exit from New England. Robbie Keane ($11.7) may have been sidelined with injuries for most of this campaign, but the Irishman netted a brace in the Galaxy’s fifth win of the campaign, picking up 13 points in his 59 minutes on the field. Furthermore, it couldn’t possibly be a good weekend without Seattle’s Jordan Morris ($8.3) getting a mention. The forward has now scored in four straight matches as Seattle won their fourth-straight home game against San Jose on Saturday.

The Bad:

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The only red card of the weekend was collected by Orlando’s Cristian Higuita ($6.7), who was sent off late on in his side’s 1-1 draw with New York Red Bulls. OCSC are now on a run of five games without a win and with star turns Kaka ($10.8) and Cyle Larin ($9.2) in their side – it is fair to expect more from the men in purple. Meanwhile, Dallas failed to score and lost for the third consecutive outing. It has to be worrying the Texans with forward Maximiliano Urruti ($8.5) needing to regain the form that got him three goals in the opening four MLS games. Portland Timbers’ winless away run continued after defeat at Vancouver, while Sporting Kansas City also suffered a defeat away to Houston Dynamo. SKC are now winless in six after winning four of their opening five. Designated Players Benny Feilhaber ($10.9) and Graham Zusi ($10.1) will be expected to produce their finest form in the coming weeks, starting with this week’s DGW.

Round 10 Preview

Double Gameweek Must-Haves:

Jermaine Jones ($8.2):

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The Rapids are in tremendous form and it was sparked by Jermaine Jones’ entrance to the team. Fresh from his contract dispute with the Revs and his six-match ban for making repeated physical contact with referee Mark Geiger, the fire is very much within Jones’ play. Thrust into a more attacking role, he’s playing as well as he ever has – even at the age of 34.

Andrew Wenger ($7.2):

Houston have finally returned to some sort of form with a win over SKC and Wenger was instrumental in achieving the victory. Fixtures against San Jose and Real Salt Lake aren’t easy – but they’re certainly not the most difficult cards to be dealt at this point in the season. I would be shocked if Wenger didn’t pick up 10 points across the two games this week. If you don’t fancy Wenger, teammate Alex ($6.1) is bound to pick up a solid number of points at a cheap price.

Fanendo Adi ($10.3):

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The pinpoint in the Timbers’ MLS Cup winning attack, Adi is in fine form and with Diego Valeri ($10.5) pulling the strings behind him, he looks set to keep firing in goal after goal. He may be whisked away for international duty with Nigeria in Round 12, but he will be back in a flash – unlike other forward options like Giles Barnes ($8.5) and Chris Wondolowski ($10.7), who will exiting the league for the Copa America Centenario.

Maynor Figueroa ($6.7):

This is a risky one. Dallas may’ve lost three on the trot, but the former Wigan defender has performed solidly throughout and is still garnering plenty of bonus points. If Dallas were to keep a clean sheet in either of their two home games this week against the Sounders or the Timbers, it would be a shame to miss out on almost certain double figures. It’s also hard to ignore that Dallas are the only side to play both their games at home this week and Figueroa represents a solid pick.

Which players will you transfer in for Round 10’s DGW?

MLS Fantasy Focus: Time to invest in Crew attackers for Week 7?

By Jamie Dawe and Sam Martin

Double delirium for the Rapids in Week 6, alongside a duo of poor performances for the Red Bulls made last week a complete reversal of form from the 2015 season. However, FC Dallas have stayed true to last season’s form and top the Supporters’ Shield rankings with 17 points from 8 games, six of which were gained in Week 6 with comfortable wins over SKC and the Timbers. A first goal for Seattle’s Jordan Morris ($8.1) could signal the start of things to come from this much-hyped youngster. Overall, Week 6 was a positive one, with plenty of things to build upon in the coming weeks of the campaign.

Week 6 Review

The Good:

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Only six minutes into his MLS return for Montreal, Didier Drogba’s ($11.5) cheeky back heel leveled the score up at 1-1, as Montreal went on to earn three huge points away to Chicago. Impact teammate Ignacio Piatti ($10.6) netted a stunning 90th-minute winner with a curled effort from the edge of the box in a game dominated by Montreal. Meanwhile, the Sounders’ revival continues as Seattle beat Philadelphia 2-1 with defender Chad Marshall ($8.6) heading home from a corner to score for the second consecutive week. While it may have been a disappointing defeat for New York City, World Cup winning forward ‘El Guaje’, David Villa ($11.3) netted a brace – his third and fourth goals of the season. An emphatic victory for LA Galaxy was was started and continued by a Giovani Dos Santos ($10.9) double, with the Galaxy running away as 4-1 winners in Houston. Portland’s Fanendo Adi ($10.2) also continued his fine form, netting his second brace of the campaign against San Jose. Michael Barrios ($8.1) netted in both of Dallas’ games, which leaves the Western Conference leaders on a six-game unbeaten run. On the theme of unbeaten runs, Real Salt Lake remain the only MLS side yet to lose a league match this season. Juan Manuel Martinez ($8.5) netted early in the second half to make it consecutive 1-0 victories. How long can this incredible run continue for RSL?

The Bad:

Seattle Sounders vs Philadelphia Union Red Card Alberg

Philadelphia midfielder Roland Alberg ($8.1) picked up two yellow cards within 53 minutes of his side’s 2-1 defeat to Seattle. Columbus Crew’s Tyson Wahl ($6.0) conceded a penalty that teammate Michael Parkhurst then saw red for in a case of mistaken identity in his side’s eventual win over NYCFC. Wahl has since been handed the suspension that Parkhurst was wrongly given. Portland’s Diego Valeri ($10.3) also saw red in the dying moments of Portland’s 3-1 triumph, picking up a 90th minute yellow and 95th minute red card. The Red Bulls made it six defeats from seven as the star club from the 2015 season are being let down by key attacking players such as Bradley Wright-Phillips ($10.5), Lloyd Sam ($8.9) and Mike Grella ($7.8), with the team having only netted five goals from their seven matches so far. A club with such high expectations will be expecting to push on sooner rather than later. Houston Dynamo dropped to the bottom of the Western Conference after being outclassed by LA Galaxy, despite taking the lead within the first minute. The Dynamo have only managed one win so far this campaign (admittedly it was a resounding 5-0 romp against Dallas, with this being Dallas’ only defeat). It summarises the thrilling unpredictability of the league!

Week 7 Preview

Must Buy:

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With Columbus finally returning to form in their victory over NYCFC, now’s the time to stock up on their star players. When Kei Kamara ($10.9), Ethan Finlay ($10.7) and Federico Higuain ($10.3) are firing on all cylinders, they are an unbeatable side. Looking ahead to upcoming DGW’s, adding some SKC players would certainly seem wise. Nuno Coelho ($8.3) is quickly building a name for himself in Kansas City, along with their only two other ever-present starters, goalkeeper Tim Melia ($5.7) and French fullback Amadou Dia ($6.0).

Must Sell:

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Chicago Fire only play once in the next three weeks, so budget-hogging players like David Accam ($9.2) and Kennedy Igboananike ($8.1) need to be discarded for now. Portland are relying incredibly heavily on Adi and the now suspended Valeri, and won’t play in Week 7. Even when they do return to action, it might be worth transferring out Lucas Melano ($8.7), who is extremely pricy for a player that’s yet to really shine. Injuries to Marco Pappa ($8.2), Matt Hedges ($9.0) and Alvas Powell ($7.1) mean these three players will be dead weight for at least the next two or three game weeks and replacements should be brought in.

Who will you be transferring in for Week 7?

MLS Preview and Prediction: Vancouver Whitecaps vs Montreal Impact

Competition: Major League Soccer – Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Montreal Impact

Venue: BC Place Stadium – Sunday, March 6 – 17:30 ET (22:30 GMT)

Match Odds: Vancouver 3/4 – Draw 11/4 – Montreal 7/2

Match Preview

Vancouver Whitecaps host Montreal Impact in an all-Canadian clash as part of Sunday’s bumper schedule as the 2016 MLS season kicks off in style.

The Whitecaps started last season at home to Canadian opposition but fell 3-1 to Toronto and will be desperate to get off to a better start this time around.

Despite dropping their opening game last year, Vancouver went on to finish second in the Western Conference and had the best defensive record in MLS in 2015. The home fans will be full of optimism as they start what they hope will be another successful campaign.

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Vancouver’s preseason form certainly suggests the squad is ready for the new season. They won five of their six games in preparation for the new term and look to be in good shape.

Montreal had a far less encouraging preseason run, winning just one of their six games, but will be looking forward to starting the real thing here.

The Impact became one of the league’s most dangerous teams towards the end of 2015, mainly thanks to Didier Drogba’s sensational arrival, though they will start 2016 without their star attacker as he will not play on turf.

Mauro Biello has strengthened the squad over the offseason and will be looking forward to seeing how his new-look attack cope with a well drilled Vancouver defence on opening weekend.

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Both sides had a player sent off in their final preseason games, proving the intensity of each squad, and so this has the potential to be a fiery Canadian clash at BC Place.

The Impact won last year’s only regular season meeting 2-1 on home soil but have yet to win an MLS game in Vancouver.

Team News

Vancouver have no injury concerns heading into the new season and Carl Robinson will have the luxury of picking his best team for an important home opener. New signings Fraser Aird, Christian Bolanos and Blas Perez will expect to start.

Montreal will need to cope without Didier Drogba for four of their first five games of the new season as he is opting not to play on turf. The Impact will need to cope without their star man, while the only injury concern appears to be Andres Romero. The midfielder tore his ACL in October and is still on the road to recovery. New signings Harry Shipp and Lucas Ontivero will be hoping for starts but it’s unlikely both will feature from the off. Dominic Oduro should start in place of Droba on Sunday.

Key Points

Vancouver Whitecaps’ preseason form: W/W/W/L/W/W

Montreal Impact’s preseason form: L/D/L/W/D/D

Key Stat: Vancouver are unbeaten in five home games against Montreal in all competitions (W2 D3).

Key Player: Pedro Morales – The Vancouver Whitecaps playmaker saw out his preseason preparations in style as he scored a first-half brace in the 3-1 win over Minnesota United last weekend. He will hope to hit the ground running in 2016 and should cause the Montreal defence problems throughout.

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Score Prediction

Vancouver Whitecaps 1-1 Montreal Impact – This is a really tricky one to call. Both sides will be full of excitement heading into the new season and have to try and ensure they remain disciplined. Vancouver weren’t as good at home as they could have been last year and Montreal will more than fancy their chances of taking at least a point from this one. Both sides will expect to find the net but don’t be surprised if this ends up all square.

2016 MLS Season Preview: Montreal Impact

As the 2016 MLS season edges closer, we’ll be publishing each team’s MLS 2016 Season Preview. Today we take a look at what Montreal Impact will be hoping to achieve this season.

There is a genuine sense of excitement surrounding Montreal Impact ahead of the 2016 season, with plenty to build on after a great end to the last campaign. The Impact recorded their highest points total (51) since joining MLS in 2012 and reached the Conference Semifinals of the MLS Playoffs. They will be disappointed not to have gone all the way to MLS Cup but the team now have a real chance with Didier Drogba ready to start his first full MLS campaign. Finishing as high as third again will be a tough ask but Mauro Biello will feel he has a squad capable of doing just that as he prepares for his first full season in charge.

Last season’s finish:

Eastern Conference – Position: 3rd – P34 – W15 – D6 – L13

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What needs to change this year?

There is nothing substantial the Impact will need to change this year. They ended the 2015 regular season with six wins from their last eight and boasted the best form in MLS come the final day. They will look to start better this time around, after failing to win in their first five games last term. One thing that they must be wary of is over-relying on Didier Drogba. As good as the Ivorian was, Montreal must ensure they can cope without the striker in case of injury or a midseason departure.

Key changes to squad:

Ins: Kyle Fisher – Defender, Lucas Ontivero – Midfielder & Harry Shipp – Midfielder.

Outs: Justin Mapp – Midfielder, Dilly Duka – Midfielder, Kenny Cooper – Forward, Nigel Reo-Coker – Midfielder & Eric Miller – Defender.

Key Player:

Didier Drogba – Forward – Impossible to mention anyone other than Drogba as Montreal’s key man. The former Chelsea striker netted 11 goals in 11 regular season games after joining the club and also bagged a playoff goal as he quickly proved himself to be one of the most lethal strikers in Major League Soccer. He will turn 38 just after the season starts but looks set for a big season in what could be his last.

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One to Watch:

Lucas Ontivero – Midfielder – Montreal haven’t made many preseason signings but Lucas Ontivero is an eye-catching acquisition. The 21-year-old Argentine winger joins on loan for the season from Turkish side Galatasaray. He spent time with the likes of Real Madrid, Tottenham and AC Milan as a youngster and will hope to take MLS by storm in 2016.

Predicted Finish:

Eastern Conference – 5th – While there is a real air of expectancy around Montreal for 2016, the worrying over-reliance on Didier Drogba means that it’s difficult to see them transferring their end-of-season form from last year into the whole of the 2016 campaign. They should still comfortably make the playoffs once again but finishing as high as they did last season will be a tough task. Don’t rule out a deep playoff charge, though.

What are you expecting from Montreal Impact in 2016?

Drogba set to return to Europe on loan despite Chelsea snub – report

Didier Drogba’s sensational exploits in Major League Soccer since joining the Montreal Impact have led to ongoing loan links to Europe during the upcoming offseason.

The 37-year-old Ivorian forward has netted 12 goals in 13 appearances for Montreal since making his debut in late August. He’s already the club’s seventh-highest goalscorer in their short history and is taking the league by storm.

But that’s inevitably attracting interest from across the pond. The Chelsea legend had been linked with a short-term return to the Blues for a third spell in London but Jose Mourinho denied reports that he could be brought in to help turn their season around in January.

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Instead, Serie A side Bologna are being touted as a possible destination for Drogba. The Italian side sit third from bottom after 11 games and are in an early relegation battle.

Montreal Impact president Joey Saputo also part-owns Bologna and could be keen to use Drogba to help save the Italian club from relegation with the injection of some mid-season goals.

Drogba signed an 18-month contract with Montreal in July and will enjoy one full season in MLS next term.

The new campaign will start in March and so a loan move to Italy would mean Drogba misses preseason preparations with the Canadian side.

Would a short-term loan move to Bologna make sense for Didier Drogba?

Montreal comeback to beat Columbus in first leg of key Eastern playoff

Montreal Impact came from behind to beat the Columbus Crew 2-1 in the first leg of their Eastern Conference semifinal on Sunday night.

It was an open, attacking game between two sides that entered the MLS Cup Playoffs in fine form. Montreal advanced past Toronto 3-0 on Thursday night and had to make sure fatigue didn’t affect their performance too much on Sunday.

The Impact beat the Crew home and away during the regular season and used whatever mental edge followed that by putting in a confident display in front of the home crowd.

Didier Drogba looked to have opened the scoring after 15 minutes as he bundled the ball into the net but the goal was disallowed as the Ivorian was adjudged to have handled the ball as it went in.

Montreal were then stunned as Columbus took the lead on 33 minutes, grabbing an important away goal through Federico Higuain as he slotted in after Drogba’s defensive header fell straight to him.

But the Impact’s troubles didn’t last too long as Patrice Bernier levelled with a powerful header from a corner on 37 minutes, much to the delight of the home crowd. The goal was Bernier’s second in four days after not scoring during the entirety of the regular season.

The second-half saw the game tighten up a bit but Montreal then capitalised on some lacklustre Columbus defending in the 77th minute as Johan Venegas cooly slotted in after just coming off the bench.

Columbus pressed for a late equaliser but were unable to add to their single away goal and now have to make sure they win their home game next weekend.

Kei Kamara really struggled to make an impact for Columbus and the Crew will have to find a way to get him more involved for next weekend’s match if they’re to advance to the next round.

The two sides will meet at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus next Sunday for the second leg. The winner will go on to face DC United or the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference Final.

What did you make of Sunday’s game in Montreal? Did the Impact deserve to win?