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SOCCER

Drogba's debut a smashing success for Phoenix Rising

By - Jun 11, 2017

By Orlando Manzo for The Sporting Nation


SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Didier Drogba made his long-anticipated debut in front of 7,062 fans by scoring a goal to help the Phoenix Rising FC defeat Vancouver Whitecaps 2, 2-1 on Saturday night.
 
Drogba looked tired when it was over, as he played the entire game and even so contributed an assist to former Chelsea teammate Shaun Wright-Phillips with his goal. “It was very difficult for me after six months without practicing and took me five weeks to get back into shape, but I still need a few weeks to improve.” Drogba said.
 
Saturday’s game also marked the debut of the team's new coach, Patrice Carteron, who was appointed as manager last month.
 
“Didier is still a great player,” said Carteron. “With these kinds of players, they have so much experience that any moment until the end they can score a goal like Shaun did tonight.” Carteron said. 
 
Josh Cohen, goalkeeper of the Rising, made multiples saves at the beginning of the game, as Wright-Phillips and Omar Bravo both missed great opportunities to put Phoenix on top.
 
Things started to get complicated when a goal did not come early and the frustration of Bravo got him a yellow card in the 18th minute.
 
But the crowd exploded when Drogba scored the first goal of the game in the 40th minute with a tremendous header into the Whitecaps' goal.
 
In the second half, Jason Johnson created a couple of chances to add to Phoenix's lead, but shots were stopped by Sean Melvin, goalkeeper of the Whitecaps.
 
For a few moments, the Whitecaps started to have more control of the ball and dominate the game with dangerous passes to their strikers. As a result, in the 68th minute, referee, Ramy Touchan called a controversial penalty arguing that Kody Wakasa, who committed a foul inside the 18-yard box.
 
Moments later, Marco Bustos converted the penalty kick to a goal for the Whitecaps to tie the game.
 
Nine minutes later, Drogba gives (gave) a beautiful pass to Wright-Phillips, who crossed a shot between the legs of the defender and scored the final goal of the match in the 77th minute.
 
The young 'Caps were affected by the weather as the temperature reached 100 degrees during the evening, conditions that are not ideal for a team from the Pacific Northwest.
 
Bravo was also very active during the game, generating various goal opportunities for the rest of his teammates.
 
“The most important thing is that we won, we scored two goals and I am going to continue creating chances wherever position I play.” Bravo said.
 
Bravo also mentioned the honor of playing with Drogba and both playing as strikers for Phoenix Rising. “It is an honor and I felt really good playing with him. Being our first game together and him being tall and strong, he can generate spaces for other players like Johnson and myself,” Bravo said.

 

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