As Montreal Impact fans anxiously await the debut of superstar striker Didier Drogba, the debate continues over last week's decision to trade Jack McInerney to the Columbus Crew in exchange for a draft pick. There is a large percentage of the fan base that would have preferred that the club keep the young striker as his best years may still be ahead of him.
I may not be in the majority, but I think that the club made a good decision. Let me start by saying that I believe McInerney is a good player, and he may find his form and go on to score bundles of goals for Columbus or another club. I was actually of the opinion at the beginning of the year that Jack could help shoulder the load up front.
As we begin the second half of the season however, for me, Dominic Oduro has shown us why he is the player that the club decided to keep. The biggest reason why I believe the speedster managed to dethrone Jack Mac was because of his no quit attitude on the field.
While McInerney had a nose for goal, there were always stretches during games where I would be wondering where he was on the field. It was no secrete that Jack felt he was never given a fair shake however stats may prove otherwise. He featured in 17 games before being traded, 13 as a starter, in those 17 games only five times did he play fewer than 70 minutes.
He left Montreal after scoring 4 goals this year in 1,188 minutes that works out to a goal every 297 minutes (or 3.3 games). For someone collecting the kind of money he was making that is not very convincing.
Praise for Oduro
Dominic Oduro takes a lot of heat from fans and media for having a heavy first touch, and leaving chances unfinished but I for one would have him on any team of mine in a heart beat. Every time I see Oduro on the field he is giving his all, if he loses possession he tries to win it back, there is just no quit in him.
I for one, love what he brings to the line up, and although I like them, it has nothing to do with his cool hair cuts either or goal celebrations. Sure there are times when I see him make a break away from a defender and start to celebrate prematurely but at least I know he will do what he can to create another opportunity for himself or a teammate.
People might be surprised to see that statistics are also in his favor. He has only played 913 minutes so far this year (16 games), and yet he has already found the target six times. He has only started 10 games, in his last six starts he has four goals. Overall, so far this year, he is scoring at a rate of a goal every 152 minutes (or 1.6 games). If you were to have a look back at his most successful season (2013) when he found the target 13 times (in 2,854 minutes), he was scoring at a rate of a goal every 219 minutes.
Yes, he probably should have more goals this season when you think of some of the chances that went for not. However, for someone that has a so called bad first touch his 6 goals are only 2 behind leader Ignacio Piatti (8 goals), who scored four from the penalty spot.
Many people at the start of the year were writing Oduro off because of his lack of scoring last season splitting time between Columbus and Toronto but he is on pace to set a personal season high in goals if he keeps up with his current pace. Another reason why I prefer Oduro over Jack McInerney : his versatility. Whether Klopas was right or wrong in his decision making, we have also seen the Oduro play at right midfield. On the wing he's almost able to use his speed even more because he has more space to maneuver.
He never complained when he was pushed to the wing instead he went out and did whatever he could to help the team. The thing with Oduro is that he knows his strength, and will use it all day long to take advantage of his opponent whether he is attacking or defending. While he makes almost as much as McInerney, he certainly brings an encouraging work ethic on the field, something that can't always be said about the latter. If anyone can complain about a lack of playing time it would be Oduro, but instead of complaining he has taken his chances by the horns and ran with it.
One thing that I find interesting when reading fan comments is the leeway other players get when things don't go as planned. Piatti, or Romero are allowed to over-dribble or fire it wide but Oduro's touch is a little heavy and an opportunity is lost, and fans want him off the field.
I say give Oduro a break as he is putting away his fair share of chances. For the record, during Marco Di Vaio's 20 goal season, his rate was roughly a goal every 137 minutes. For someone that does not have anywhere near the same technical ability, Oduro's pace is not far off that of the Italian legend. Even when the Ghanaian does not have the ball, he is always trying to make runs to draw defenders near, or give his teammates an outlet. He is always working hard.
The Drogba Effect
Only Frank Klopas, Mauro Biello, and Enzo Concina know what formation they are going to use going forward, but it goes without saying that if the formation stays the same Oduro will get less starts over the remainder of the year once Drogba is ready.
The Ivorian legend will be bringing a calmness and poise in front of goal, that killer instinct that Impact fans have not witnessed since Marco Di Vaio retired. I am sure that he has already started sharing his experiences and expertise to his teammates at training.
Everyone will be expected to raise their games to another level with Drogba in town. He is a champion, and one thing champions hate more than anything is losing. Like Di Vaio, I expect Drogba to be consistent in front of goal and bury his fair share of goals. Without a doubt he will be the main focus for defenders when he is on the pitch, leaving chances for others to get in on the scoring.
The good news for Oduro is that Drogba is 37, and likely won't be able to play a full 90 minutes every match. He will surely have his share of opportunities going forward and I am willing to be that whenever he's summoned to get on the field he will make the most of it. One this is certain, Oduro is doing his best to make it hard for Klopas to remove him from the starting eleven.
Even if I am in the minority, I am glad Oduro is a member of the Impact, he wants to be here and will play from the first whistle till the last with the same intensity.