On Wednesday, reports emerged that Didier Drogba wanted to skip the first month of the MLS season, instead opting to train with Miami FC. The reason? Four of Montreal's first five matches are scheduled to be played on turf, and the soon to be 38-year old isn't a big fan of the artificial surface.
Frankly, this shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone that follows Montreal, as Drogba almost never played on turf last season, either. Still, it seems to have ruffled some feather in the MLS offices, as even thought the Impact were reportedly willing to allow Drogba to train with Miami, the league is having none of it.
It was MLS who prevented Drogba from training with Miami FC— Bob Williams (@WilliamsBob75) March 3, 2016
Frankly, this turn of events should come as no surprise to anyone, as MLS routinely acts with their own best interests in mind, as opposed to those of their players. Given that Drogba won't be playing right away anyway, I'm not sure who this would really hurt, but the league has spoken, and their word is always final.
The fact that older players coming from Europe will be reluctant to play on turf should be nothing new for either MLS or the NASL, as there's a clear stigma that exists there about playing on anything other than natural grass, and frankly, it exists within the North American soccer community as well. It's obviously a concern that both the league and franchise were aware of when Drogba came to MLS (as evidenced by his rest days last season), and given that the early Impact schedule included so many days on turf, they probably should have seen this one coming all winter.
Regardless, Miami FC won't be hosting Drogba for a month as they prepare for their inaugural season. That's too bad, as I think it would have been pretty cool to see the additional exposure that side could have gained by having such a legend of the game working with their squad, and it would have been a nice, soft introduction to the world of coaching for Drogba, who will almost certainly start a career in management when he hangs up his boots. It also would have been another opportunity for the NASL and MLS to work together, as opposed to the constant bickering fans of both leagues have become accustomed to. The front offices of teams from both leagues appear to have no problems working with each other, it's just a shame the league offices can't ever follow suit and do the same.