Frank Lampard may be struggling to make his mark in MLS at New York City FC, but another Chelsea legend seems to be having on such problems.
Former long-time Blues teammate Didier Drogba made his first start for the Montreal Impact in Saturday night’s home clash with the Chicago Fire and promptly led the Canadian outfit to a 4-3 win with a hat-trick.
The Ivorian striker, who made his MLS debut as a substitute in last month’s 1-0 defeat to the Philadelphia Union, had missed the recent 2-1 loss at Toronto FC with a toe problem but he showed no signs of rust in firing his side back into sixth-place in the Eastern Conference.
In the 27th-minute, the big-name summer signing opened the scoring when he connected with a Nigel Reo-Coker cross and shrugged off Eric Gehrig’s challenge to fire home for his first Impact goal.
The Fire equalised just nine minutes later through Jeff Larentowicz’s spot-kick but Montreal were back in front within 30 seconds when Wandrille Lefevere headed in Marco Donadel’s corner.
Chicago hit back again in the second-half, however, and were 3-2 up inside the hour thanks to strikes from forward duo Gilberto and Kennedy Igboananike, as Montreal looked to be heading for a third straight league defeat.
The visitors’ lead did not last long, though, as Drogba soon added another two goals in the space of five minutes to complete a perfect hat-trick – right foot, left foot and header – and hand his side a vital win.
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It was a cruel blow for the Fire, who had been the front-runners to sign the two-time Premier League top scorer this summer until Montreal snuck in at the last-minute with an offer that convinced him to head to Canada instead.
Speaking to MLSSoccer.com after the match, Impact had coach Mauro Biello said: “What can I say? What a performance from Didier. He’s such a committed person. He’s won everywhere. He came here with a great spirit, with such a will to win. And we saw that tonight.”
While Drogba himself was satisfied with the points, he was not so pleased with the performance, adding: “The most important thing is that you get the three points, but when you look at the game itself, you know we’ve got a lot of things to change and to work on. There’s always room for improvement in this team.”
Now aged 37, Drogba might not be the same ferocious finisher who terrorised Premier League defenders during his first spell at Chelsea but, having still managed to score seven times in 40 games for the English champions last term, there is good reason to believe that he can prove an inspired signing for Montreal – both on the field and off it.
Currently sitting just one point inside the Eastern Conference’s play-off places, the club will have their work cut out over the final 10 games of the regular-season to keep ahead of the likes of the Philadelphia Union and Lampard’s NYCFC but, if their star man puts up a few more performances like last night’s, then the final spot should be theirs.