Didier Drogba’s time with the Montreal Impact is almost over. Moments after the Impact beat Toronto FC in the first leg of the Eastern Conference final on Tuesday, the striker told reporters from the locker room that he won’t be returning next season.
His comments came as the Impact’s Twitter account shared a video thanking Drogba for his time in Montreal. So the announcement was clearly planned – but with the Impact’s season not over, the timing is a bit odd.
The Impact will go to Toronto next week for the second leg of the Eastern Conference finals and, if they win on aggregate, they will go to the MLS Cup. But given that Montreal is the lowest seed left in the playoffs, they will not be hosting the MLS Cup, even if they do get there.
Drogba clarified that Tuesday’s match was his last in Montreal, but he said he was looking forward to the second leg in Toronto next week. He declined to elaborate on his future plans when asked if he was retiring from soccer completely.
"Speaking about next week’s game is more important than if it is finished or not," he told reporters of his career. "Everybody knows that it was my last game here, and that’s it, let’s focus on the conference final."
Drogba had been linked to a return to Chelsea in a coaching role earlier this year, and there was widespread speculation he was not going to return to the Impact. Those reports didn’t come to pass, and after a bit of an awkward period where the team didn’t seem sure of his status, he confirmed he would play in 2016.
This season was something of a rollercoaster for the former Chelsea striker. He wasn’t as effective as perhaps most people would’ve wanted and the team was getting better results without him on the field. In October with playoffs inching closer, coach Mauro Biello made the difficult decision to bench the star, and Drogba refused to dressed in anger.
The two sides seem to patch up their problems and Drogba returned for the conference semifinals. He played a super-sub role, but it was the right role for him, and he assisted a nice Ignacio Piatti goal to help ouster the No. 1 team of the east, the New York Red Bulls.
But now, with Tuesday’s announcement, Drogba only has one or two games to seal his legacy in MLS.