The Black and Gold have their first shot at a trophy in a few short hours against the Montreal Impact in the first place match of the Disney Pro Soccer Classic. Columbus has won each of their games in Orlando, beating Toronto, Philadelphia, and Orlando City by a combined score of 8-2.
The staff is likely pleased with a perfect record so far, but are probably happier at how the team has started to come together. The first eleven has played significant minutes, including nearly the whole game last Saturday. Given the lineup turnover in the off season, every minute counts.
The game is another chance to get more match fitness for the team. This will be the Crew's seventh preseason game. Head Coach Robert Warzycha has settled on a starting lineup and has gotten several of his starters into match fit.
The lineup issue is clouded with the Kirk Urso Memorial Match kicking off tomorrow at 1pm. The Crew have to balance the lineups. The starters will get a full run out tonight in preparation for the season opener against Chivas USA next Saturday. A largely reserve lineup will be playing in less than 24 hours in North Carolina.
With a full compliment of starters, Columbus is primed to challenge for the championship against a Montreal team that had it's own turnover this off season. Jesse Marsch was replaced by Swiss coach Marco Schällibaum. Midfielder Andrea Pisanu joins on loan from Bologna while Andrés Romero also joined on loan from Tombense.
The Impact are trying to pick up where they left off towards the end of last season. They finished with a 2-0-1 record in group play to get to the first place game.
Tonight is the final test for the first team before the season kicks off against Chivas USA next Saturday. It will be a good test against another team looking to get into the playoffs.