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 Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs Montreal Impact

Competition: Major League Soccer – Columbus Crew vs. Montreal Impact 

Venue: MAPFRE Stadium – Saturday, May 7 – 19:30 EST (00:30 GMT)

Match Odds: Columbus Crew 5/6 – Draw 13/5 – Montreal Impact 16/5

Match Preview

Columbus Crew welcome high-flying Montreal Impact to MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday evening in a game which has plenty to offer.

Crew are still struggling in games and sit 9th in the Eastern Conference as a result. Not many would have predicted this sort of season for them and they need to work on turning things around.

Gregg Berhaulter’s side come into this one off the back of their 1-0 loss against Seattle, which ended their two game winning streak, their only two wins of the season so far.

Scoring has been a problem for Crew who have netted just seven goals in their eight games. In their three home outings they have won twice, so it appears that home form would be their best chance of pusing their way up the table.

Seattle Sounders vs Columbus Crew

Montreal Impact are sitting top of the Eastern Conference and are mounting a solid challenge for the Supporters’ Shield. Impact have already beaten Columbus Crew earlier this season, a 2-0 victory at home.

There is a little room for improvement for Mauro Biello’s team, who come into this one off the back of their 2-2 draw against Colorado.

Impact were in a winning position in the game against Colorado so will be ruing a missed chance to get back to winning ways. They are now winless in three (D2, L1)

MLS: New York City FC vs. Montreal Impact

Team News

Columbus Crew have two injury concerns, Gaston Sauro and Mohammed Saeid are doubts.

Montreal Impact have five players carrying injuries. Andres Romero, Cameron Porter, Donny Toia, Anthony Jackson-Hamel and Hassoun Camara are all expected to be out.

Key Points

Columbus Crew’s last five: D/L/W/W/L

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

Key Stat: Columbus have only lost once in seven all-time MLS home meetings against Montreal.

Key Player: Ignacio Piatti – The Montreal playmaker will be looking to breakdown the Crew defence who despite their lowly position in the league have only conceded ten goals.

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

Score Prediction

Columbus Crew 1-2 Montreal Impact – Montreal to get back to winning ways and inflict more misery on Columbus.

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?

MLS Playoff Preview and Prediction: Montreal Impact vs Columbus Crew

Competition: MLS Playoffs (Eastern Conference Semifinal First Leg) – Montreal Impact vs. Columbus Crew 

Venue: Saputo Stadium – Sunday, November 1 – 19:00 ET (00:00 GMT)

Match Odds: Montreal Impact 6/5 – Draw 13/5 – Columbus Crew 21/10

Match Preview

Montreal Impact host Columbus Crew on Sunday night in their first ever MLS Playoffs Conference Semifinal as two sides with genuine hopes of lifting the MLS Cup this year go head-to-head.

After a 3-0 knockout round win over Toronto on Thursday Montreal will feel confident of progressing into the Eastern Conference Final after the two legs with Columbus.

Much of their recent success is down to Didier Drogba and his sensational goalscoring record since arriving in the summer. He has now scored 12 in his last 11 matches in MLS.

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With four wins on the bounce, you’d be brave to bet against the Impact in this one. They are a real force at home and deserve to be where they are right now.

Montreal Impact’s regular season record: P34 – W15 – D6 – L13

Columbus have been excellent this season and display consistency that is not to be underestimated. They are the favourites to win over two legs when you consider their regular season form but this is the MLS Playoffs and anything can happen as we’ve already seen this week.

Remarkably, Columbus lost both matches against Montreal during the regular season and so it seems the Canadian’s have the Crew’s number.

Columbus have been handed a boost however, as Kei Kamara is expected to start after serving his one-game suspension. The striker has been so important for them going forward this season and his tally of 22 goals – tied most in the regular season – is a fearful statistic for the Impact.

Columbus Crew’s regular season record: P34 – W15 – D8 – L11 

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Federico Higuain will also return for the Crew as they look set to strengthen in attack for the game, despite banging five past DC United last Sunday in that 5-0 win.

Team News

Montreal Impact will be missing Cameron Porter, Kenny Cooper and Andres Romero, who are all out injured. Justin Mapp is a doubt. The Impact are likely to field an unchanged team to the one that beat Toronto. Didier Drogba had a first-half injury scare on Thursday but went on to play 90 minutes and should be fine to play.

Columbus Crew are without Kristinn Steindorsson through injury. Tony Tchani is questionable with a sore right thigh, while Matt Lampson and Chad Barson are both doubts. Federico Higuain and Kei Kamara will return after missing the final game of the season.

Key Points

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

Columbus Crew’s last five in MLS: W/L/L/W/W

Key Stat: Montreal Impact have won their last six at home in MLS, including Thursday’s 3-0 playoff demolition of Toronto.

Key Player: Didier Drogba – The Ivorian striker has been sensational since moving to Montreal and with 12 goals in 12 games it’s impossible to look past him as the difference-maker on Sunday night.

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Score Prediction

Montreal Impact 1-0 Columbus Crew – Montreal have the added advantage of a 3-0 win in midweek to take into the game, however, Columbus have been consistent all season and have had an extra week to recover for this one. We’re expecting a nervy first leg for both sides but can see home-field advantage helping Montreal to narrowly win this one.

Chelsea not looking to sign Didier Drogba for a third time

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has ruled out any chance of resigning Didier Drogba to help his side improve in the new year.

The Chelsea legend, who is the fourth highest goalscorer in their history, has been unplayable since joining Montreal Impact in MLS. He has scored 12 in 12, including Montreal’s third in their 3-0 playoff win last night.

Didier Drogba Chelsea Getty

Mourinho, speaking at today’s press conference, was posed the question of another Drogba return but ruled out the possibility.

“Do you want me to compare the Premier League with MLS?

“Didier will always offer something to a club and the group that loves him and that he loves. No doubt about it. But will I bring him back? No.”

The Ivorian goal-machine will be fully focused as he hopes to lead his side through the Eastern Conference semifinals on Sunday evening as they face Columbus Crew in the first leg.

Chelsea face Liverpool on Saturday lunchtime in what is a huge game for the club, and in particular, Jose Mourinho.

Should Chelsea consider bring Didier Drogba back to the club again?

MLS Preview and Prediction: Montreal Impact vs DC United

Competition: Major League Soccer – Montreal Impact vs. DC United

Venue: Stade Saputo – Saturday, September 26 – 17:00 ET (22:00 BST)

Match Odds: Montreal Impact 4/5 – Draw 5/2 – Chicago 16/5

Match Preview

Montreal Impact entertain D.C United this weekend with both sides in playoff places as the end of the regular season closes in.

Impact come into this one off the back of their 2-1 midweek victory over Chicago Fire as Didier Drogba netted once again.

The home side are sitting sixth in the Eastern Conference, four points ahead of Orlando City with two games in hand. Mauro Biello will feel his side should make the playoffs now but knows there is no room for careless mistakes.

This is the third and final regular season meeting between the sides and Montreal are yet to win against their opponents.

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DC United have dropped off the pace in the Eastern Conference and have now failed to win any of their last five matches, they need a big performance in this one.

Despite their poor run of form they still sit fourth with an outside chance of finishing top of the Eastern, but that would be dependent on results going their way.

They come into this one off the back of their 2-1 home defeat to the Columbus Crew and are a side lacking confidence.

DC will take confidence from the fact they have won the two previous meetings in the season between the sides, both 1-0, and know they are capable of beating Montreal. This however, will not be an easy task.

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Team News

Montreal Impact are expected to still be without Cameron Porter, Kenny Cooper, Patrice Bernier and Justin Mapp. Laurent Ciman is suspended, while Nigel Reo-Coker, Andres Romero and Marco Donadel are all one booking away from suspension.

DC United have three injury concerns. Eddie Johnson and Chris Korb are expected to miss out while Davy Arnaud is a doubt. Perry Kitchen is suspended, while Conor Doyle, Steve Birnbaum and Taylor Kemp are all one booking away from suspension.

Key Points

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

DC United’s last five: L/L/L/D/L

Key Stat: DC United have failed to win any of their last five regular season games, losing four of them.

Key Player: Didier Drogba – The powerhouse has five goals in five appearances for Impact, leaving us wondering how much better their season could have been if they had the goal-machine from the start of the season.

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Score Prediction

Montreal Impact 2-1 DC United – Impact to record their first of the season against DC as they take advantage of their opponents poor run of form.

Montreal Impact confirm Didier Drogba signing as “one of biggest days in club history”

Didier Drogba has completed his long anticipated move to Major League Soccer by joining the Montreal Impact as a Designated Player.

The 37-year-old Ivorian striker joins on a free transfer after leaving Chelsea at the end of his one-year contract last season, winning a fourth Premier League title with the Blues, and will undoubtedly help the Impact improve in all aspects.

Drogba is a huge international name and is regarded as one of the greatest players to have emerged from Africa. He has won the African Player of the Year award twice and is the Ivory Coast’s all-time leading goalscorer.

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Chicago Fire looked to be in pole position to land Drogba, though the player was reportedly not so keen on the move and instead wanted to join Montreal.

That looked improbable until the Impact made a huge trade with Chicago for both general and targeted allocation money believed to be worth at least $250,000, according to ESPN FC’s Jeff Carlisle.

Chicago have since acquired Gilberto from Toronto but it’s Drogba’s move to MLS that will be stealing headlines on Tuesday morning.

“It’s an honor to welcome Didier Drogba to the Impact,” Montreal President Joey Saputo said in a club statement. “From the first conversation I had with him, I felt that he really wanted to play in Montreal.

“This is one of the biggest days in club history and his arrival to the club will be beneficial in every aspect.”

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The Chelsea legend’s leadership qualities and eye for goal will make him an instant hit with Montreal fans, who will be relishing the prospect of watching their new man in action.

The Impact beat Seattle 1-0 on Saturday to move into a playoff position in the Eastern Conference and face New York City FC this Saturday night. Drogba could make his debut against an NYCFC side boasting Andrea Pirlo and David Villa, though long time teammate Frank Lampard is not yet fit enough to make his debut.

How big a signing is Didier Drogba for the Montreal Impact?

Chelsea legend has ‘several MLS clubs’ in pursuit with offer on the table – report

Didier Drogba’s proposed move to Major League Soccer continues to rumble on through the summer, with the latest report by ESPN FC suggesting he now has an official offer on the table from the league.

Several clubs are said to be interested in the Chelsea legend, who is a free-agent after leaving the Blues at the end of his one-year contract in June – just one month after winning an impressive fourth Premier League title with the club he scored 164 goals for in all competitions.

Chicago Fire are believed to be heading the list of those in pursuit of Drogba, with the player himself seemingly keen on a move to the US before retiring.

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Chicago have three Designated Players already on their roster and would therefore need to buy down the contract of either David Accam or Kennedy Igboananike to accommodate Drogba on a reported 18-month contract worth $2.5 million per year, in the same way LA Galaxy did with Omar Gonzalez to sign Giovani Dos Santos earlier this week.

But here’s the catch. Drogba is apparently unwilling to move to the Fire. That’s according to TSN’s Noel Butler, who believes the 37-year-old forward is keen on a move to Montreal Impact instead.

That would make sense as to why Drogba has not yet sealed a move to MLS, with an unknown club from Qatar also in the hunt for his services.

Wages could be a huge factor, with a report last month suggesting Drogba wanted $8 million for a six-month contract with Orlando City SC. So the offer MLS has put on the table will need to be an attractive one if one of the Premier League’s greatest strikers is to become the latest star to join MLS.

A move to Montreal would be an enormous one for the organisation and the TSN report indicates: “Drogba has made it abundantly clear to the Impact that la belle ville is the Special One as far as MLS is concerned.”

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But with Chicago topping the Discovery List for the player, a move to Canada appears unlikely, unless MLS changes it’s player allocation mechanisms which are so often criticised.

As it stands, if Drogba pens the MLS deal being offered he would be set to join the club that has first option on him through the Discovery List system, so that would see him join Frank Yallop at the Chicago Fire.

The longer this projected move goes on, the less likely it is we’ll see Didier Drogba scoring goals in Major League Soccer.

Do you want to see Drogba in MLS? Who should he join?

Portland Timbers boss confirms club are interested in Drogba and Pirlo

Portland Timbers head coach Caleb Porter has confirmed that his MLS club are interested in Chelsea striker Didier Drogba and Juventus midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo.

Both Drogba and Pirlo have been linked with moves to MLS this week and the Timbers boss has done little to quell the rumours suggesting that we could see two superstars heading to the USA.

“We’ll go after anybody like that. We’d love to have guys like that, but it comes down to the feasibility of it and looking at the situation as well,” said Porter.

“We’re aware of all these guys that come over and sometimes we want them and they don’t want to come to us. Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense for whatever reason based on the situation, but yeah, we’re looking at all those guys.”

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Portland’s owner Merritt Paulson admitted back in January that he would like to have Drogba at the Timbers and although the Chelsea striker is ageing, Paulson believed the Ivorian would be “uniquely skilled to clean up in MLS.”

At the time Paulson said, “the league almost signed him a couple years ago and I know my coach would love him to be a Timber, but I highly doubt it at this point.”

However, it looks as though the likelihood of Drogba plying his trade in MLS with the Timbers has increased this week after the 37-year-old confirmed he is leaving Chelsea and is interested in playing in the USA.

Would Didier Drogba be an ideal signing for the Portland Timbers?