Former Chelsea F.C. striker Didier Drogba joined Major League Soccer side Montreal Impact, as a Designated Player, on an 18-month deal in the summer.
Since then, several teams have tried–and ultimately failed–to stop the Ivorian. As a matter of fact, Drogba, 37, has scored 12 goals in 12 league appearances for the Impact this season, having failed to find the back of the net on just four occasions since moving to the Saputo Stadium.
Accordingly, Columbus Crew boss Gregg Berhalter has admitted that his side do not have a viable solution for shutting down the 37-year-old ahead of the first leg of the MLS Eastern Conference semifinal on Sunday.
The Impact won both league fixtures against the Crew in 2015–2-1 in Columbus and 3-0 in Montreal–but Drogba did not feature in their contest.
And although the Crew have improved significantly since both defeats to the Impact earlier this season, Berhalter believes that Drogba presents a new problem. He is right.
“I think we’re more confident [than a month or two ago], but I’m not sure there’s an answer [for Drogba],” Berhalter told the Columbus Dispatch.
“We want to limit the damage he can do. He’s going to get some opportunities. He has in every game he’s played in.
“We have to be concentrated, we have to work together, we have to get numbers around him and try to limit the damage he does.”
The addition of Drogba gives the Impact a true No. 9, with the ability to win aerial duels and hold up the ball to allow the likes of Andrés Romero and Ignacio Piatti to run in behind the defence.
“They can play long balls to Drogba, hold it and someone can run in behind,” confirmed Crew midfielder Tony Tchani. “That’s something that they didn’t have in the past. They were just trying to get you on the counter every time, but now they have the counter or Drogba.”
Tchani added: “We just have to make sure that we keep an eye on him because his movement is really good, he’s very powerful in the air. He can bring a lot of attention, but other guys can sneak behind him and make us pay.”
As a member of the Impact, Drogba has (1) scored a goal every 80 minutes of league play; (2) scored on 23 percent of his shots on goal; (3) won 2.8 aerial duels per game; and (4) won four man-of-the-match awards.