By Jason Davis – WASHINGTON, DC (Dec 30, 2015) US Soccer Players – While there’s nothing official yet, rumors persist that Didier Drogba will soon be leaving the Montreal Impact for a return to his spiritual home, Chelsea. What role Drogba might take back with his old English club is unclear. From an Impact perspective, it hardly matters. Losing out on a full season of Drogba leading their attack will require a hard turn in a new direction as the Impact prepare for the 2016MLS season.
Montreal pushed all of its chips in on Drogba, and rightfully so. All the striker did upon his arrival in Quebec last summer was score a goal for every regular season appearance he made. Drogba reformed the team in the process of pushing them into the playoff on a rocket ship of momentum. If 2015 was the preview, 2016 is the full show. Now there might not be a show at all.
Therein lies the problem of building a team around such a large central figure. In the age of the Designated Player, there’s a temptation for MLS teams to sign a talented, aging, marketable name and make him the lead character in their program. It’s a bet that his influence will help turn the side into a contender. With that gamble comes the acknowledgement that if the player in question doesn’t fully commit, or worse yet bails on the project early, the club is back to square one.
It’s not possible to “rebuild” when the load-bearing column is no longer in place. The whole edifice comes crashing down. For clubs that are not adept at forming a competitive team under the MLS salary constraints, the removal of such a key figure can send the team reeling.
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