Ok sure, I know I could have easily just called this the Drogba something-er-other edition, but as our new hero likes to continuously point out, it’s not all about him. I’d be inclined to disagree, because I believe that it is, in fact, all about him, but in his honour, I’ll talk about other players that have really stepped up, starting with Dilly Duka.
It’s not that Duka is playing way better than he was before, because I’d argue that Duka has always been a player that got after it, a player that worked hard to win back possession.
The difference is that now when he wins back the ball, he has an actual striker to pass the ball to. Duka, like Reo-Coker, is an example of a player that has simplified his approach since the Ivorian’s arrival, and it’s paid off in spades. So much so, that Drogba called Duka the "man of the match" after the win on Saturday versus DC United.
Camara on point
Another player that has looked excellent of late is Hassoun Camara. A forgotten man for most of the season, the Frenchman has really been a tower of strength in his two appearances since returning from injury. In Saturday’s contest he really stepped, making all of his tackles (5) as well as 7 clearances/recoveries.
Most impressive was his poise in pressure situations, something that he struggled with last season when positioned at RB. Camara seems to have difficulty when he’s forced to dribble the ball out of a tough spot, and as a fullback this scenario arises more often than not. Playing CB, he looks far more comfortable, as he’s able sit back and focus more specifically on defending the box and making quick, simple decisions with the ball.
For me he’s at least an upgrade on Cabrera, and should be considered with Lefèvre as Ciman’s partner next game.
Midfield presence, yes, we have midfield presence…
In the center of the pitch, I really have to give it up for Patrice Bernier, who had an excellent week of football. His interception and pass to Romero for the winning goal on Wednesday (in a game that we appeared destined to throw away) was absolutely masterclass, and definitely did a world of good for his confidence going forward.
On Saturday he was very good again, making clean, precise passes in midfield, and doing an excellent job of guarding the ball with his body.
Who’s your CAMmy?
As a CM one of the most important qualities you need to possess is ball retention (i.e. holding up the play). As I pointed out to someone on twitter, I believe Bernier is very capable of playing CAM because, despite his lack of foot speed, he’s able receive and protect the ball better than almost anyone on the team.
Venegas, for instance, does not really possess this skill, and it showed when he was deployed in the CAM role. He would often receive the ball awkwardly, and subsequently be forced to dribble his way out of trouble.
To Mauro Biello’s credit, he’s figured out quickly where players work and don’t work, and has adjusted accordingly. The lineup he put together on Saturday was clearly well thought out, and personally I couldn’t have come up with anything better… Except maybe for the inclusion of Dominic Oduro.
My whipping boy for the past 2 months, poor ole’ Freaky Fast simply looks lost on the pitch. Whether it’s making a poor touch or decision with the ball or missing a wide open net, it’s been a bit of a disaster out there for the Ghanaian. I’m not sure exactly what’s happened with him; maybe it’s a case of not quite knowing his purpose on the pitch.
Unlike most of the Impact players who have embraced their role around Drogba, Oduro still hasn’t really figured it out. Maybe a spell on the sidelines would do him some good, just to see how plays develop with a dominant striker up top.
Do it Didier, do it
In other news, Didier Drogba looks like he’s 25-years-old the way he is over-powering and out-witting defences. Now having scored seven goals in just 5 starts, it’s clear to see what an "Impact" the Ivorian has had on his team and the league. Drogba was recently named the MLS player of the week for the second time this month.
As much as I’d like to now start thinking about the Impact’s chances of winning an MLS cup, you have to take Drogba’s domination with a grain of salt. He has scored at will thus far, but much of his success has been against lackluster defence (but that free kick, though ;).
The real test for the Impact will come on the road, where the team has struggled mightily and Drogba has yet to score. If the team can look as dominant away from home, starting this weekend at the hard-charging Orlando City SC, then maybe we can start looking ahead to the playoffs and championship aspirations.