PACHUCA, Mexico – The Montreal Impact knew what to expect against Pachuca: lots of defending.
There was thus no better way to put their new-look defense to the test. All four defenders were making their Impact debut on Tuesday, and all eyes were on the experienced central partnership of Bakary Soumare and Laurent Ciman protecting Evan Bush’s net.
Often forced deep into their half, Soumare and Ciman showed great composure in Montreal’s 2-2 tie at Pachuca in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal. Both made numerous clearances (eight each, in fact), and Ciman timed his several ventures forward impeccably.
It was their debut, but the chemistry is already there.
“We’ve been playing together for a couple of weeks, and we get along really well off the field and on,” Soumare told reporters after the game. “The reflexes are there. Last year, we conceded a lot of goals. The objective, this year, is to concede as few as possible. We gave up two tonight, so obviously, we’re not happy, but as far as the central defense goes, I’m really happy to be with Lolo. He’s a really good player, and with time, it’ll get even better.”
As Soumare pointed out, despite all the positives, Montreal did concede two goals, “avoidable goals” as Ciman described them. The first was a free kick he felt could very well never have been given, and the second was a mishap Ciman was annoyed with.
“On the second goal, Bush and I could have talked to each other,” Ciman said. “I think I’m clearing it, he had it in his hands. Alas, we kind of bumped into each other, and the ball falls for the forward [Ariel Nahuelpán] who scores. I’m complaining a little bit about that, but in no way am I complaining about Bush or one of my teammates. I just like to win, I’m a winner.”