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Drogba 30m piledriver sets Phoenix Rising FC on their way to first ever USL playoff victory

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Phoenix Rising FC 3-0 Portland Timbers 2, USL playoffs round of 16

Didier Drogba, the Big Man for the Big Occasion, has once again lived up to his billing and his final season as a professional football player is extended by at least one more game.

Never in doubt, right?

He may have over 40 years of wear and tear on his body and his legs, but he is forever young as far as heart, determination, and competitive spirit go. All those qualities were on full display Friday night, as the team he co-owns, Phoenix Rising FC, won their first ever home USL playoff game by a comprehensive 3-0 scoreline.

The match itself didn’t always reflect that sort of domination, but Phoenix were the more effective, more clinical, more experienced side, and in the end advanced easily to the USL Western Conference semifinals — which corresponds to the overall USL playoff bracket’s quarterfinals.

After last year’s disappointment in a penalty kick shootout at this same stage, Phoenix got the party started in the first half, and there was little surprise as to the identity of the goalscorer. Behold, the Drogba knuckleball piledriver from waaaaay downtown. The poor kid in the Timbers 2 goal had no idea what to do with that.

Drogba also opened the scoring last year, but Phoenix couldn’t make it count. This time, they added two more goals in the second half, taking advantage of Timbers growing desperate for an equalizer. Drogba was substituted around the 70-minute mark, which he was none too pleased with, but other than that little blip, it was a magnificent occasion and one to remember for all the local fans.

Next up for Phoenix will be the winner of Sacramento Republic vs. Slope Park Rangers (to be played Saturday night), with Phoenix traveling to Sacramento or hosting Rangers depending on the outcome next weekend.