MLS round-up: Chelsea pals influenced Drogba's Montreal move, Gerrard's weekend status unclear

Didier Drogba

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Drogba reveals Chelsea influence in Montreal move

Didier Drogba has revealed at his official unveiling that former club Chelsea helped influence his decision to join the Montreal Impact.

Drogba, 37, left Chelsea earlier this summer after making 381 appearances in two stints for the Blues and soon had offers from a host of clubs, with the Impact and Eastern Conference rivals Chicago Fire emerging as the front-runners for his signature.

His MLS right first belonged to the Fire but the club were forced to sign and trade him to Montreal after various factors convinced the Ivorian striker to make the move to Canada.

One of those was the club’s facilities, where Chelsea set up camp during their recent pre-season trip to North America and, according to Drogba, got glowing reviews from the likes of Eden Hazard and Jose Mourinho.

“[Nemanja] Matic, Eden Hazard, the coach, they all said good things about the facilities,” said Drogba. “The sports facilities matter a lot. Few clubs have such fine facilities. It matters because you spend a lot of time training, so it’s important to be in a comfortable setting, a healthy environment.”

Drogba is scheduled to meet his new teammates on Friday but there is no word yet on whether he will take part in training or travel with the squad for the weekend’s game at New York City FC.

Galaxy uncertain on status of Keane and Gerrard

Elsewhere, LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena is not sure whether he will have a couple of former Premier League stars available to him for Saturday’s Western Conference clash at the Colorado Rapids.

Robbie Keane and Steven Gerrard are both back in training after missing Wednesday night’s MLS All-Star game against Tottenham Hotspur through injury but no decision will be made on their availability for the weekend until the team arrives in Denver.

“We’ll see,” Arena told the club’s official website. “We’ll see how they’re feeling tomorrow.”

Nevertheless, while Gerrard’s “muscle strain” could well see him rested, teammate and former Liverpool colleague Keane is confident he will overcome his shoulder problem in time for the game.

"It's good. I trained today, I trained a bit yesterday with no contact,” he added. “It's fine but it would have been a big risk if I had a fall. Obviously, it was the doctor's decision to keep me out [of the All-Star game].”

Ricketts heads back to LA

Meanwhile, the Galaxy have brought a familiar face back to the StubHub Center, re-acquiring goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts from Orlando City SC in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft.

Ricketts, 38, made 70 regular-season appearances for the Galaxy between 2009 and 2011, winning the 2011 MLS Cup and 2010 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award, before being traded to the Montreal Impact.

The move comes in the wake of Jaime Penedo’s sudden departure from the club over contract issues, but the Jamaican stopper’s teammates – both new and old – believe he will prove a more than capable replacement.

“There are still seven of us here from when he came in 2009, we know Ricketts well and we know what he’s capable of doing,” defender A.J. DeLaGarza told lagalaxy.com. “He’s got a lot of experience in this league know, and we’ll look to him to get on the field, and or push the younger goalkeepers. I still think that we’re in a good place.”

The Crew find their new right-back

Columbus Crew SC also bolstered their defence on Thursday, announcing the signing of Ghana international Harrison Afful from Tunisian club Esperance.

The 29-year-old right-back, who played two games at last summer’s World Cup, fills the hole left by Hernan Grau’s mid-season departure and gives the Crew a strong-looking starting XI for their coming play-off push.

"Harrison is an experienced, versatile defender whose playing style will fit well into our system," Columbus head coach Gregg Berhalter told the club’s official website. "He has established himself in the highly competitive Ghanaian National Team and has participated in both the Africa Cup of Nations and in the World Cup.

“After an extensive search, we're happy to welcome Harrison to Columbus and we feel that he is going to be a great addition to our defensive corps."

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