ZAPOPAN, Mexico – The Impact tied Mexican first division club Atlas 1-1, on Thursday in Zapopan, a borough of Guadalajara, in its fourth and final preseason game in Mexico.
Despite facing a tough opponent, the Impact finished its Mexican tour undefeated.
Midfielder Sanna Nyassi opened the scoring in the 57th minute with a one timer, coming from a cross to the second post by Eduardo Sebrango.
Atlas tied the game two minutes later when an Impact defender played the ball back to the goalkeeper, who upon trying to clear the ball, hit the Atlas striker, sending the ball into the back of the net.
“We came to Mexico to play good games and Atlas gave us a really good opposition. We were well tested today. They put us under pressure and we had to react as a unit,” said Impact head coach Jesse Marsch. “I think that today's game made us a better team. We are pleased with a lot of elements, but one trip to Mexico won't make us a good team. It will take time and we will have to commit to this project for an entire year.”
“It was a great team goal and I was at the right place at the right time,” said Nyassi. “My speed is my weapon on the field and it helps me a lot. We would have preferred to win, but it was a good game overall.”
Atlas came close to beating goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, who played the first half, in the 28th minute, when two shots hit the post and then the crossbar one right after the other.
Then, in the 35th minute, following a weak clearing attempt by the Impact’s defence, Atlas again nearly scored with a low cross crease shot that just missed the net.
Goalkeeper Evan Bush, who played the second 45-minute half, excelled with two saves in the 72nd minute, and then again in 75th minute, stopping a shot off of a breakaway, following a ball behind the Impact defence.
“That was a good team in front of us as demonstrated by their ability to hold onto the ball,” said defender Hassoun Camara. “We were ahead and unfortunately, we conceded a goal, but it's not the end of the world at this stage of our preseason.”
"I'm happy with our performance,” said midfielder Ian Westlake. “The results in Mexico have been brilliant. We have a great group and everything is going into place nicely.”
The Impact will train in Guadalajara for the next two days, and will then return to Montreal on Sunday. The team will then take advantage of two off days before taking to the pitch for training at the Marie-Victorin Sports Complex, from February 1 to 4.
First-half lineup: GK-Donovan Ricketts, D-Josh Gardner, D-Nelson Rivas, D-Shavar Thomas, D-Calum Mallace, M-Francisco Mendoza, M-Felipe, M-Collen Warner, M-Justin Mapp, F-Brian Ching, F-Justin Braun
Second-half lineup: GK-Evan Bush, D-Tyson Wahl, D-Nevio Pizzolitto, D-Hassoun Camara, D-Simon Gatti, M-Miguel Montaño, M-Ian Westlake, M-Bryan Arguez, M-Sanna Nyassi, F-Aaron Schoenfeld, F-Eduardo Sebrango
Impact - Sanna Nyassi (Sebrango) – 57th minute
Atlas – 59th minute
Collen Warner 42nd minute
Calum Mallace 45th minute
Miguel Montano 70th minute