Some more good news came Toronto FC's way last night, in the form of a tweet from Montreal sports personality / TSN radio host Tony Marinaro:
Unless theres a healer who can fix Drogba's toe like Miyagi fixed LaRussos thigh, hearing Drogba will NOT play at TFC pic.twitter.com/BwifxnhJj5— Tony Marinaro (@TonyMarinaro) August 28, 2015
That's right TFC fans, legendary striker and prize Montreal acquisition Dider Drogba is unlikely to play tomorrow at BMO Field, despite what recent reports had suggested.
The news should not come as a huge surprise. Drogba, after all, is 37 years old, and did stay back in Montreal for the Impact's deciding Voyageurs Cup match against the Vancouver Whitecaps just two nights ago with the very same toe injury. Many had suggested the ‘knock' was in fact just an excuse to rest the star and avoid playing him on turf. It appears, however, that the injury is very much real, and the designated player's absence is likely to play a significant role in the outcome of Saturday's contest.
While the task at hand has just become significantly easier for Toronto FC, the Reds must avoid becoming complacent and underestimating the Impact's supporting cast.
Without Didier Drogba and Ignacio Piatti around to ignite the offence, the Impact will largely be relying on former Red Dominic Oduro, new acquisition Johan Venegas, and Justin Mapp (recently recovered from injury) to produce and keep their side in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Venegas is still looking to prove himself in the league, Mapp has established himself as a talented nuisance when playing the Reds, and Oduro used to don the Toronto kit (enough said). TFC's back four will still need to bring their A game to get the desired result on Saturday.
Drogba's pending absence adds to the list of good news revelations for TFC over the past week. No Reds will be leaving the club to join the Canadian men's national team as they take on Belize in their next World Cup qualifier. Michael Bradley will not make the trip with the US men's national team for their friendly against Peru, instead sticking around with his club for a forthcoming league match against the Seattle Sounders. And now Saturday's match against Toronto's rivals to the east will likely see Montreal's two biggest stars watching from the sidelines (if they even make the trip).
I should re-iterate that in no way is Saturday a guaranteed win for Toronto FC. Last week's 5-0 drubbing of Orlando City SC aside, Toronto FC have historically found a way to lose in shocking fashion even when everything leading up to the match appeared to be in their favour. Should they find a way to falter on Saturday, a loss would be terribly demoralizing for fans and team alike. However if the Reds manage to actually meet their expectations and defeat their weakened Canadian rivals, it would not only continue to build their confidence, but also go a long way to finally securing that ever-elusive (and much needed) playoff spot in 2015.