LOS ANGELES: Matteo Mancosu, who has been starting in place of injured star Didier Drogba, scored twice as the Montreal Impact defeated D.C. United 4-2 in a winner-take-all MLS playoff contest Thursday.
Laurent Ciman and Ignacio Piatti also scored for fifth-seeded Montreal, which advances to the Eastern Conference semi-finals for the second consecutive season.
The Impact starts the two-game, home-and-home series Sunday against the New York Red Bulls at Montreal’s Stade Saputo. The return leg will be played in New Jersey on November 6.
As expected, forward Drogba was not in Montreal’s lineup against the United and Mancosu made sure the Impact didn’t miss him.
The 38-year-old Drogba hasn’t played since the end of September partly because of a back injury and but also due to a feud over his playing time with manager Mauro Biello.
The former Chelsea striker sat out most of training again this week and the US media reported that he did not make the trip to Washington with the team.
Drogba’s contract ends at the close of the season. He scored 10 goals in 22 games, but Montreal is now 7-3-3 this season when he doesn’t play.
And late in the season, Biello made a point of starting the 31-year-old Mancosu at forward and bringing Drogba in off the bench. Mancosu, who joined the Impact on loan from the Italian side Bologna in July, has five goals in eight starts.
Against D.C., Mancosu made it 3-0 in the 58th minute on his second goal of the contest.
Ambroise Oyongo got free on the left and fired in a cross toward Mancosu near the penalty spot. Mancosu sent a header that skipped off the ground and beat goalie Bill Hamid inside the right post.
Mancosu then set up Piatti for Montreal’s fourth goal in the 83rd-minute.
Lamar Neagle and Taylor Kemp scored late in the contest for fourth-seeded United.
The loss was United’s first in its second knockout-round appearance.