D.C. United failed again on Saturday night to qualify for the MLS playoffs, losing 2-0 to the Montreal Impact, with Didier Drogba scoring twice in the opening 11 minutes. Drogba scored from a long range free kick four minutes in, then doubled his tally seven minutes later with a delicate chip.
The loss ran United's winless streak to six games in MLS play, with the Black-and-Red losing five of those contests. In their past 12 league games, United has managed just three wins and two draws, picking up 11 out of a possible 36 points. United remain in 4th place in the Eastern Conference with the loss.
Dominic Oduro almost broke through in the 3rd minute, but as Bill Hamid cleared the ball away, the play was called back for a handball by Taylor Kemp. Drogba lined up the free kick from 30 yards out, and Hamid reacted slowly to the dipping effort, only managing to help it on the way in, as the Impact were up 1-0 four minutes in.
Drogba put United to the sword minutes later, scoring his 7th goal in 6 MLS appearances. An ill-advised pass from Markus Halsti went straight to Drogba in United's half, with Drogba quickly in on goal. The Ivorian put a move on Steve Birnbaum, and then chipped over Hamid for the two goal advantage in the 11th minute.
United almost found a way back into the game two minutes later, only for Evan Bush to deny Chris Rolfe on the doorstep. Fabian Espindola made his way down the left, firing off a cross that Bush parried back in front of goal. Rolfe was all alone in front of goal, but the bounce prevented him from getting a solid touch, and Bush recovered in time to cover.
Neither team had much going in the way of chances as the half continued, with possession from both sides relatively fruitless compared to the opening 15 minutes. With 10 minutes left, Montreal began to create chances again, though to no avail. Drogba pulled down a Patrice Bernier long ball, turned Birnbaum, but fired well over from the top of the box.
Nigel Reo-Coker had a look after a surging run into the box from Drogba, but the midfielder's low shot was gathered up by Hamid. Oduro then had a look in the 42nd minute, but United were able to block the shot away.
United's final chance of the half came in stoppage time, as Espindola whipped in a corner from the right. Halsti rose highest to win the header in a crowd, but the effort bounced over Bush's goal.
The Black-and-Red had more of a foothold in the game to start the second half, but without any real scoring opportunities, they didn't look like finding a way to get back into the match. Ambroise Oyongo in fact had the first chance of the half at the other end, but the right back saw his curling shot saved by Hamid.
Drogba was first to a Reo-Coker pass into the box, but the ball took him towards the end line, and Hamid was quick off his line to cut down the angle, and United cleared before Drogba could make more of his opportunity.
A rare spell of possession in the Montreal third ended with a well hit shot from Halsti, though it was straight at Bush. United were able to keep the ball in play after a cross wasn't connected on, with Nick DeLeon laying the ball back to Halsti outside the box. The Finnish midfielder made clean contact with the ball, but his effort was well held by Bush.
Dilly Duka, who had been mostly quiet throughout the game, had an opening after a slick turn in the box in the 73rd minute, but his left footed shot was held by Hamid. Johan Venegas then nearly got Montreal's third in the 76th minute, only to be denied, with Hamid pushing Venegas' chip over the bar.
Drogba and Duka combined in the 84th minute for another opening, with Drogba pulling in a cross, and passing it over to Duka at the top of the box. Duka quickly returned the favor, allowing Drogba to snap off a quick shot, but Hamid was quick to react, parrying the shot away, allowing United to clear the ball.
Jairo Arrieta, who had entered the game in the second half for Rolfe, worked with Espindola to create one final shot for United. Arrieta's pass fell to Espindola's right foot though, and the Argentine sent his shot well wide of the mark, condemning United to the 2-0 loss.
United, with 45 points from 31 games, will get another crack at playoff qualification next Friday, when they host New York City FC at RFK Stadium.