The Montréal Impact walked away from Estadio Hidalgo with the result they were looking for last night, getting a 2-2 draw and, most importantly, two away goals. They will now go home with a distinct advantage in the return leg, with draws of 0-0 or 1-1 good enough to advance through to the CCL semifinals.
As was probably to be expected, their Mexican counterparts put the pressure on early, keying in on the right channel where our perceived weakness lay. Their star youngster Jurgen Damm was a danger early on, and the defense needed to be on full alert, as crosses and corners came in aplenty.
The Impact were able to weather this storm, and were even able to score a goal against the run of play, thanks to a brilliant piece of skill by Dilly Duka in the 25th minute. Duka would score early in the second off of another counter move, before Pachuca rallied to tie it up.
A bit of misfortune played a part on both Pachuca goals, as did fatigue and a bit of over aggressiveness. Ciman's foul (albeit questionable) resulted in a free kick outside the box that led to Pachuca's first goal, while a bad read and subsequent missed tackle by Donadel near the center of the pitch led to their second goal.
Both plays probably could have been avoided, but I'd rather see aggressive plays that go wrong than meek ones.
Anyways, onto the ratings!
K: Evan Bush - 6/10
Shaky first match for the Impact's keeper. Didn't look super confident in net, and was a step slow reading the development of Pachuca's attacks. His performance was a snapshot of his 2014 season, always a bit to slow on ball recoveries and anticipating play in the box.
CB: Laurent Ciman - 8/10
An extremely solid first game for the Belgian import. From start to finish, Ciman displayed the kind of conviction and determination required from your starting centerback. His defensive clearances, especially early on in the contest when much of the Impact looked shaky, gave the team the confidence it needed to push forward. People can harp on his errors that led to the goals, but without Ciman, we aren't in a position to win last night.
CB: Bakary Soumare - 7/10
Not quite as solid as his partner, Bakary still managed to get the job done last night. Despite a few mental gaffes in the box, the Malian-American cleared his lines quite well, and was fairly sharp throughout the contest.
LB: Donny Toia - 6/10
It looked like it was going to be a tough night early on for the recently acquired American, who had his hands full with the ever dangerous, Jurgen Damm. The converted winger looked like a fish out of water in the first 20 minutes, as Pachuca focused their attack almost completely on his side of the pitch. Despite the rough start, Toia recovered well, especially in the second half, where Damm and Co. threatened far less down the right.
RB: Victor Cabrera - 7.5/10
Considering it was his first action as a fullback in his career, I thought Cabrera had a very nice showing. He was strong in the tackle, anticipated passes very well, and was solid in the air. He began to tire in the later stages of the game, and began to play less aggressively, which got him into a bit of trouble. Overall though, I was impressed.
DM: Marco Donadel - 8/10
Very impressive debut for the Italian midfielder. Like Ciman and Cabrera, he was excellent at anticipating Pachuca's movements, and was instrumental in turning the ball over and starting IMFC counter attacks. His rating would have been higher if not for a bad missed tackle that led to the Pachuca equalizer.
DM: Nigel Reo-Coker - 5/10
Easily the most underwhelming player on the pitch for the Impact. Didn't have a lot touches, and when he did, he was slow in his distribution. Looked a step behind everyone else on the pitch. I'm sure he'll figure it out, but was simply not as ready for the fixture as were the rest of his teammates.
LM: Dilly Duka - 9/10
Can't say enough about Dilly's performance. Maybe not the best start with couple of subpar first touches in the first 15 minutes, but he quickly made up for it with a phenomenal goal in the 25' minute. He gained confidence from that point forward and he never looked back. Solid on the ball, and his decision-making was excellent. Full value on both goals.
CAM: Ignacio Piatti - 8/10
Nacho was everything you would expect from a DP midfielder. His first touch was excellent and did a very good job of stabilizing the Impact's counterattacks to create some bona fide chances. Was the most exciting player on the pitch, in my opinion.
RW: Justin Mapp - 7.5/10
Bit of an uneven performance by Mapp, but generally made the most of his time on the ball, which was rare. Despite the fact that he's a fairly one-footed player, made an excellent decision on the second Impact goal by moving it out to his lesser-used right foot to get a shot on net. He also did well to find empty spaces in the Pachuca defense to carve out some counter attacking opportunities. Looked extremely gassed by about the 70 minute mark, but overall a nice first run-out by the American winger.
Striker: Dominic Oduro - 6/10
Oduro was okay in his first game for the Impact. Used his speed well to get out into empty spaces, but more often was let down by his first, or second touch. His speed forced Pachuca to not go full-out attack, but rarely created much when he was given an opportunity to run at defenders 1 v 1. A decent first outing, but not much more.
DM: Callum Mallace - 8/10
Was very good in his short stint on the pitch. First touch was excellent, and moved the ball quickly and efficiently. Seems like he's picked off where he left off after a breakout season last year.
RW: Cameron Porter - 6.5/10
Didn't play too much of a part in the contest, but overall was a positive sub. Kept the ball well enough, and tracked back quickly on defense when called upon. Considering the fact that the Impact was hanging on by a thread when he came on, he did a good job of neutralizing Pachuca's left flank movements.
RB: Hassoun Camara - 5.5/10
Camara was reportedly injured coming into the match and it showed. Slow in the tackle, Hassoun was a step behind the action for most of his 20 minutes on the pitch. He was booked on a very late tackle, and never really looked comfortable.