The game wasn't close as Matteo Mancosu, the player who took Drogba's spot in the starting lineup, scored twice and Laurent Ciman and Ignacio Piatti added goals as the Impact raced out to a 2-0 lead at the half, 3-0 after the hour mark and 4-0 after 83 minutes.
"It is so easy to play with such a great player like Nacho Piatti," said Mancosu. "We are really happy with this result, and we're confident that we'll do well in
the next two games."
The Impact came into the game as the underdog in the aftermath of the controversy surrounding Drogba and his decision not to dress for the Oct. 16 home game against Toronto FC. He didn't dress for the season finale -- a 3-0 loss at New England during which Impact coach Mauro Biello held out eight starters -- and had not practiced with the Impact on Monday, still suffering from back problems.
“We were focused on our task, and that’s what we saw on the field tonight,” Biello said. “Our team was ready to fight and to do what it took to win. I congratulate my players on what was probably their best performance of the year. Now, we turn our focus to an important game on Sunday.”
Goals by Lamar Neagle and Taylor Kemp in the 90th minute and stoppage time reduced the Impact's lead and extended D.C. United's string of games with two or more goals to 11. But that was small consolation after a disappointing effort.
United won four straight games to put itself in a position to host in the Knockout Stage before losing at Orlando City, 4-2, in its season finale with a team of reserves. But it struggled in midfield without MLS veteran Marcelo Sarvas, who suffered a knee injury in late September and only got on the field to start the second half when United was already down 2-0.
The win moves the Impact into the Eastern Conference semifinals for the second year in a row. It opens at home against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday. Will Drogba play?
“Because he didn’t train much this week, it would’ve been difficult," Biello said of Drogba's absence against D.C. United. "But that the game for Sunday could be more realistic for him. If he’s healthy, he will be available for me.”
Oct. 27 in Washington, D.C.
D.C. United 2 Montreal 4.
MTL: Laurent Ciman (Marco Donadel) 4
MTL: Matteo Mancosu (Ignacio Piatti) 43
MTL: Matteo Mancosu (Ambroise Oyongo) 58
MTL: Ignacio Piatti (Matteo Mancosu) 83
DC: Lamar Neagle (Patrick Nyarko) 90
DC: Taylor Kemp 90+4
D.C. United -- Hamid; Kemp, Boswell, Birnbaum, DeLeon; Vincent; Nyarko, Jeffrey (Marcelo 46), Acosta (Buescher 65), Sam (Neagle 60); Mullins.
Montreal -- Bush; Oyongo, Ciman, Cabrera, Camara; Donadel (Venegas 78); Piatti (Lefevre 84), Bernardello, Bernier (Mallace 71), Oduro; Mancosu.