For the first time in what seems like forever, I am sitting down to write an article about an Impact win. Not a loss, not a draw: a win! Complete with all three points!
The Impact welcomed expansion side Atlanta United to Montreal for the inaugural match of the season at Saputo Stadium. It was a magnificent day for soccer in Montreal and the Impact treated the 17 144 fans in attendance to quite a show.
Even though Atlanta were the first to get on the scoreboard, the Impact dominated the opening half. A mix of bad luck, poor finishing and questionable refereeing were the only things that prevented IMFC from taking an early lead. In the 40th minute, Atlanta striker Kenwyne Jones took advantage of Bush’s poor decision making to put his side up by a goal.
However, IMFC wasted little time getting things back onto even terms. Bernier masterfully played a ball through to Mancosu who was hauled down in the box by Atlanta defender Leandro González Pirez. Pirez was awarded a red card for the foul and the Impact, a penalty. Piatti converted to equalize the score at 1.
With the man advantage, the Impact ramped up the pressure in the 2nd half. In fact, they did just about everything but score in the next 45 minutes. It looked like the Impact were going to have to content themselves with (yet another) draw until Anthony Jackson-Hamel did his very best Didier Drogba impression by masterfully redirecting Bernardello’s shot with the back of his heel towards the back of Atlanta’s net. This world class finish secured a desperately needed home win for the Impact.
Player ratings, Starting 11:
Evan Bush: Bush’s decision to attempt the long pass towards Oyongo instead of making the short safe pass to Camara cost the Impact a goal and nearly a win. Other than that, he was solid and commanding inside his box. Rating: 6.5/10
Ambroise Oyongo: Oyongo was decent defensively even though he was overwhelmed by Atlanta’s tricky wingers on a few occasions. Offensively, he was great until he had to fire in a cross. He got into dangerous positions, but the quality of his service into the box was lacking. Rating: 8/10
Laurent Ciman: It was nice to have our defensive general back. He was the calming and solid heart of our defence once again on Saturday. Ciman did a very good job keeping a lid on Atlanta’s explosive forwards. Rating: 9/10
Victor Cabrera: Cabrera was solid defensively while he was on the pitch but his reckless tackle on Almiron in the 13th minute was extremely risky as it was red card worthy. For once, the Impact benefited from the leniency of a ref. Let’s call it pay back for last week. Rating: 6/10
Hassoun Camara: Camara was much more impressive once Cabrera’s injury forced him to move into a more central position. As a center back, he formed a formidable duo with Ciman and he contained the aerial threat posed by Atlanta’s 6’4” striker, Kenwyne Jones. Camara was out of position on Atlanta’s goal, but that was due do the fact that Bush decided not to make the safe short pass to him. Rating: 8.5/10
Callum Mallace: The Scotsman was filling in for the suspended Marco Donadel. He formed an intriguing and more balanced partnership with Hernan Bernardello. He provided an offensive threat from the midfield that Donadel does not. However, he did not offer the same distribution that Donadel does. Rating: 8/10
Hernan Bernardello: Bernardello was much more useful in the 2nd half when the Impact kept their foot on the ball and dictated possession. However, the precision of his passing in the final third was poor. Defensively, Bernardello helped make up for the absence of Donadel. Rating: 7.5/10
Ignacio Piatti: It was great to see Piatti back in the starting 11 with the Impact. The Argentinian maestro was at the top of his game. He daringly took on Atlanta’s defenders and forced Atlanta’s keeper to make a diving save in the 10th minute. On the down side, Piatti once again failed to bring his teammates into the game. He was all about the individual effort. Rating: 8.5/10
Patrice Bernier: Bernier proved that even at his age, he remains a dominant player. It was Bernier who played Mancosu through during the lead up to the penalty. Contrary to Piatti, Bernier brings his teammates into the game. Rating: 9/10
Dominic Oduro: The Impact did not exploit the Ghanaian’s speed enough and once again, Oduro’s finishing was poor. He missed quite a few great scoring chances around Atlanta’s box. On the up side, he linked up very well with Duvall down the right side and the two combined to create many threats.. Rating: 6.5/10
Matteo Mancosu: The Italian striker once again touched very little of the ball but even with those limited touches, Mancosu attempted 4 shots and was fouled in the box to give the Impact a penalty. Mancosu had less of an impact in the 2nd half since Montreal dominated possession and he could not make his usual darting runs behind the opposition’s back line. Rating: 7.5/10
Player ratings, Subs:
Chris Duvall: Duvall entered the match in the 21st minute for the injured Cabrera. He was solid defensively and a threat going forward from the moment he got onto the pitch. Sadly, like Oyongo, the quality of his crosses left a lot to be desired. Rating: 8/10
Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla: The young Canadian was a difference maker from the moment he took to the pitch. He was not scared to take on defenders that were nearly twice his age. During his 30 minutes on the pitch, Ballou earned the Impact a free kick in a dangerous position and set Piatti up with a golden chance. Rating: 9/10
Anthony Jackson-Hamel: AJH gifted the Impact with their first three points of the season thanks to a beautiful flick on goal. Who knew he had that kind of talent? Personally, I never thought the academy product had what it took to make it in the MLS. However after a beauty like that …
The Impact finally secured their first win of the season and they did so in convincing fashion versus an extremely talented team. The Impact will have the opportunity to keep up their winning ways next week when they face off versus the struggling Philadelphia Union. This is the perfect opportunity for the Impact to start a string of wins and regain their rightful spot in the standings.