The Impact entered Thursday's match versus the red-hot DC United as the unanimous underdog. Pundits affirmed that the Impact's only chance of winning was if Piatti stood on his head and if we caused turnovers and defended as a unit. I am proud to announce that the Impact did all that and more on their way to a statement win over DC United. The Impact's front three were lethal, our midfielders executed their transition play flawlessly and our back four played air tight defence in a dominant 4-2 win. Here are my thumbs up and thumbs down for the Impact's knockout round win over DC United.
Ignacio Piatti: Our Argentinian maestro did more than stand on his head. He was the most dominant player on the pitch and paved the way for the Impact's upset victory. Piatti was ready to take on all comers. He was a constant threat to DC's back line and was never afraid to take on defenders one on one. His dribbles led to many great scoring chances for the Impact but Nacho did not limit his offensive contribution to dangerous dribbles. He also returned deep into our own half to recover possession and take the game to DC. Piatti fed his teammates with beautiful passes but his most impressive play of the night was the inch perfect pass that allowed Mancosu to double IMFC's lead in the 43rd minute. Piatti's hard work paid off again when the great one himself scored in the 83rd minute. Performance Rating: 9.5/10
Laurent Ciman: Le Général looked like the defender of the year we got used to last year. Ciman and his fellow defenders had the difficult task of dealing with one of the most dangerous offences in the MLS spearheaded by the physical Patrick Mullins. Ciman was able to confidently deal with DC's searching crosses and was also rock solid in his defending of the through ball. Even as DC dialled up wave after wave of pressure, Ciman stayed strong. On the few occasions Ciman was caught out of position, he hustled to get back and make the decisive tackle. Ciman finished the match with an impressive 2 tackles, 8 interceptions 10 clearances and 4 recoveries. Performance Rating: 9/10
Matteo Mancosu: Mancosu proved once and for all that he deserves to be the starter over Didier Drogba with another stand-out performance on Thursday. Mancosu played off the shoulder of the defenders and forced DC's back line to be alert. That constant menace provided by the quicker Mancosu is not present when we have Drogba playing up top. Our Italian striker also combined extremely well with Piatti to form a lethal duo that accounted for 3 goals and 2 assists. Most importantly, Mancosu was perfect in his execution in front of the goal. He showed poise by beating one of the MLS's most talented keepers on two occasions. I am confident we will see Mancosu start up top for the remainder of the season. Performance Rating:9/10
Final 5 minutes: The Impact seemed to be caught up in the excitement of their win and let their guard down for the final minutes. DC capitalized and scored twice in the last five minutes of the match. Luckily, the Impact had built up a big enough lead so that the two goals DC scored did not matter but as IMFC progresses in the playoffs, we must maintain our concentration until the final whistle or we could see a win slip though our fingers.
The Impact were playing for their postseason lives on Thursday and they showed up. The Impact won their battles at both ends of the pitch and fought their way to a very well deserved 4-2 win. If the Impact keep on playing as they did versus DC, we can make it far in the playoffs. We will have a chance to see if the Impact can keep up their dominant play when the New York Red Bulls come to Saputo Stadium on Sunday for the 1st leg of the Eastern semi-final.