Didier Drogba, perhaps the most in-form player in MLS right now, is reluctant to play Saturday because of the field surface, according to multiple reports. Drogba has never played on artificial turf before in his 17-year professional career.
"He is not comfortable with the idea of playing on artificial turf," Montreal coach Mauro Biello said on Wednesday. "He has never played on this type of surface in his career. We will probably practice on an artificial surface [Thursday] to get used to the bounce of the ball and then we train on the surface in Orlando on Friday. We will then make a decision."
Orlando City has no doubt prepared all week as if Drogba will play, but that doesn't mean this news hasn't made the Lions a little hopeful.
"I mean, I hope he doesn’t play," Orlando City midfielder/defender Brek Shea said. "The guy is unbelievable. He has always been like that since I started watching him. But you don’t focus on that -- I think we just focus on ourselves, then if he doesn’t play we have to be ready for that."
This could be massive news, as this is an enormous game for Orlando City, which sits four points behind Montreal for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, meaning they could pull within one point of Montreal with a victory. The Impact do, however, have two games in hand on the Lions, although one of the remaining games is on the road at New England -- which also uses artificial turf.
Drogba has scored seven goals in six games since joining Montreal, with the Impact being unbeaten during that stint. An Orlando City loss and Toronto FC draw on Saturday would eliminate the Lions from playoff contention.
Drogba has scored 173 league goals in his professional career that has included stints with top-flight clubs in France, England, China, Turkey and now North America.