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Columbus vs. Montreal (Match Preview)

Olman Vargas against Michigan State. (Sam Fahmi / MassiveReport)
Olman Vargas against Michigan State. (Sam Fahmi / MassiveReport)

The distance of the trip is not what matters; it is the destination that is most important. Fans will be flocking to legendary Crew Stadium tomorrow in order to see their hometown team live once again.

Columbus' home opener against expansion side Montreal Impact will kick off at 4:00 with what is expected to be a very good crowd. The Crew are coming off of a 2-0 loss from their first game of the season on March 10th in Colorado. Montreal, on the other hand, has already played twice in their first ever season in MLS, first losing on the road to Vancouver (2-0) and then tying Chicago at home (1-1) last weekend.

After starting only one forward against the Rapids in which ended up being a lackluster attack, Coach Robert Warzycha deployed two forwards in the Crew's first-team scrimmage against Michigan State last Saturday. Emilio Renteria and Olman Vargas were paired up top and proved to be much more of an attacking threat, even if it was against college teams. Vargas ended the off-week with a total of four goals in the two games he played in.

Meanwhile, in the midfield, Milovan Mirosevic showed how deadly he can be striking the ball from distance, as he scored three times against Michigan State. However, one was disallowed. Kirk Urso also seems to have made the lone holding midfielder spot his own, relegating Tony Tchani to the bench, while Bernardo Anor has overtaken rookie Ethan Finlay in the fight to start at left midfield in place of the injured Dilly Duka.

In defense, Shaun Francis may not be the starter at left back, as new signing Nemanja Vukovic joined the team in mid-weak after an impressive pre-season with the Crew. William Hesmer made an appearance in goal last weekend during the scrimmages and could very possibly be the starter tomorrow. The defense will have to be tight, as Montreal likes to barrage the goal area with scoring attempts.

Prediction, poll, and more after the jump...

Prediction: Crew 2-0 Impact

With a home-crowd advantage and, hopefully, more of an attacking lineup, Columbus will prevail on Saturday afternoon. Montreal will continue the tradition of expansion sides fluttering on the road. An Eddie Gaven goal from a nice build-up play and an Olman Vargas header will give the Crew their first three points of the young season.

Merry Crewsmas to all, and to all a good night!