If you weren't watching Columbus Crew SC and the Montreal Impact last night in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, I'm sure you've witnessed the flashpoint somewhere on the internet by now.
If not, here is Didier Drogba's reckless slide tackle on Crew SC goalkeeper Steve Clark and his subsequent leg grab:
If you need another angle, here you go:
Drogba has never been the world's cleanest player. Throughout his extensive European career, he was known to throw his body around not to be intimidated by opposing players. While he doesn't have the reputation of others in the soccer world for being dirty, this play isn't out of character for the Impact striker.
While most of the conversation and memes are focusing on the leg grab, my qualm is with the initial tackle. Drogba goes to ground as Clark is already in full swing, standing on one leg. It's a bad tackle that could have seriously injured the Black & Gold's goalkeeper.
Then there's the subsequent leg grab as Clark attempts to get up and play on. To be fair, it does appear that Clark steps on Drogba's upper thigh in an attempt to get up quickly, but that doesn't justify retaliation and pulling Clark back.
Referee Chris Penso somehow didn't see the initial tackle and only issued a yellow card for the entire scenario.
While I'm typically not one to rant about officiating, this is awful. Drogba went into the tackle with one thing in mind: To take out Clark. When that didn't work, he made sure to keep him out of the play. If the ball ends up at a Montreal player's foot and he's able to shoot while Drogba holds Clark's leg, what then?
Do I expect the league, that is already making light of the situation, to do anything about this? No. Drogba will play and could be a factor when these two teams meet next Sunday in the second leg.
It's just a shame that someone as skilled as Drogba resorts to these type of plays and what's worse, he gets away with them.