Superstar forward Didier Drogba‘s absence from the Montreal Impact roster is unlikely to end in Thursday’s Eastern Conference knockout-round playoff match against host D.C. United.
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Despite scoring 10 goals in 22 appearances, Drogba hasn’t played since the end of September – partly due to a feud over playing time with manager Mauro Biello and more recently because of a back ailment.
The 38-year-old Ivory Coast international and former Chelsea striker sat out most of training again on Tuesday. Multiple media outlets on Wednesday reported that he did not make the trip to Washington.
“I don’t think those chances will be good,” Biello said Tuesday, according to MLSSoccer.com. “He hasn’t trained, he still feels a discomfort, so the chances are very minimal.”
Drogba is out of contract at the end of the season, and fifth-seeded Montreal is actually 6-3-3 this season when he doesn’t play.
In the latter third of the campaign, Biello appeared to be more comfortable starting mid-season loan signing Matteo Mancosu at forward and bringing Drogba off the bench. The 31-year-old Italian has three goals and four assists in 15 appearances (seven starts).
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“(Drogba’s) a different player than Mancosu, but I don’t think much is going to change if they swap one for the other,” D.C. United coach Ben Olsen said, according to MLSSoccer.com. “So the way we go about the game isn’t going to change.”
By contrast, fourth-seeded D.C. United have very few questions surrounding their personnel for a group that had won four straight before sitting most of its regulars in a 4-2 loss at Orlando City SC on Sunday.
Midfielder Marcelo Sarvas (knee) and outside back Sean Franklin (calf) made their first appearances since September on Sunday, but seem unlikely to supplant anyone in Olsen’s starting lineup.
“We like our group,” Olsen told reporters Tuesday. “But those two players are very influential to the team. These are good choices to have, and I’m certainly not going to tell you who I’m starting.”