In a unique position as player-slash-owner, and facing adulation of the highest order from local fans and media, Ivorian superstar Didier Drogba spoke about his first match with Phoenix Rising FC more like a humble journeyman than a living legend.
Addressing reporters on Saturday night, Drogba was asked the predictable “how does it feel” stuff, and answered just the way you’d hope your new captain would.
“I don’t know, it always feels good to score a goal,” he said, “and it’s nice to make history but that’s not the most important for me.”
The Champions League winner and veteran of three World Cups logged a goal, an assist, and many more chances, but would not even admit to having made easy work of the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps 2, saying, “Nah, it was difficult. I think Vancouver did very well, you know they had good possession of the ball but we were a bit more efficient than them and I think we played a bit more with our head, we controlled the game, and that’s I think one of our best performances because we were consistent in our movements and the way we were moving and defending.”
There aren’t many teams in North America on which Shaun Wright-Phillips would not have the most accomplished resume, but Phoenix Rising FC is a special team, and Drogba a special player. However, even there, Drogba’s presence on the pitch was meaningful. Before scoring the winner on Saturday, Wright-Phillips took his final pass from his old Chelsea teammate, who said after the match, “Yeah, yeah. Old guys, old times, same goals. No, it was good. It was good. I know his run, I know where he’s going off the ball and I’m trying to wait at the last moment to give him the perfect pass. It wasn’t perfect but the goal was nice.”
New Phoenix head coach Patrice Carteron reveled in the occasion as well, stating, “I’m happy because Didier let most of the fun come to him and he showed that he is still a great player. He did his job, scored a goal and had a good pass to Shaun today. So I am really happy for him, really happy for the fans, Phoenix Rising and happy for all of you to see such a good player.”