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Montreal Impact 0, Philadelphia Union 1 | MLS Match Recap

MONTREAL – Didier Drogba has spoiled the soccer world with goals throughout his brilliant career. The Philadelphia Union spoiled his MLS debut.

Sebastien Le Toux scored the only goal of the encounter as the Philadelphia Union defeated the Montreal Impact 1-0 this Saturday at Stade Saputo. Drogba played his first minutes with the Impact, while 30-year-old Justin Mapp, for his part, became the youngest player in MLS history to make a 300th appearance when he came on as a sub in the 69th minute.

Le Toux opened the scoring in the 78th minute. Erik Ayuk Mbu just kept the ball into play at the end line before crossing at the other side of the box for C.J. Sapong, who nodded the ball to Le Toux, who turned it past goalkeeper Evan Bush for his sixth of the campaign.

With the win, ninth-placed Philadelphia (7-13-6, 27 pts) close the gap with New York City FC and Orlando City just below the Eastern Conference red line. The Impact (8-10-4, 28 pts) stay put in sixth in the East – for now, as NYCFC could leapfrog them with a good result on Sunday against the LA Galaxy.

Drogba made his much-anticipated debut in the 59th minute, replacing Dilly Duka. His only open play shot of the game, in the 80th minute, was off target, but his header on a corner kick six minutes earlier had provided a fine opportunity for Johan Venegas, whose overhead kick whistled above the net. His direct free kick, seconds before second half stoppage time, missed to Andre Blake’s left.

While the Impact had dominated a lifeless first half, Drogba coming into the game brought a much-needed spark, but an unexpected one. The Union started growing into the game minutes before the Drogba substitution, coming close on two occasions each side of it. C.J. Sapong nearly turned in a low cross – with Laurent Ciman on his back – in the 56th minute, while Sebastien Le Toux forced goalkeeper Bush into his first save of the game, a fine one at that, in the 62nd.

Both teams’ next MLS fixture is on Saturday, Aug. 29. The Union will host the New England Revolution, while the Impact travel at rivals Toronto FC. But first, the Impact take on the Vancouver Whitecaps this Wednesday, Aug. 26, in the second leg of the Amway Canadian Championship – with the aggregate score at 2-2.

Follow @olitremblay.

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