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Scouting Report: Montreal Impact

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The Crew come into their Saturday match with the Impact as favorites on paper, but have to get the job done on the field.

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Impact will come to central Ohio six points behind the Columbus Crew in the Eastern Conference standings, but the Impact have tasted the glory of victory twice since the Black and Gold last won.

"They've been better recently," Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter said of Montreal this week.

"They've done a lot to regroup and start playing better. I think it's a good team."

The Impact's start to the season was the opposite of Columbus'. While the Crew rattled off three straight wins to begin the campaign, Montreal didn't get their first point of the year until match four. They didn't earn their first win until the end of April, as the Black and Gold were in the middle of a stretch of no wins.

It would be hard to argue that the Impact have turned their season around, but it is apparent they have weathered some of the storm from the early season disappointment. Aside from a 4-2 loss to East leaders D.C. United, Montreal has only conceded two goals once in almost two months after being porous defensively the first two months of the year.

Both teams enter this match on the back of a last minute 2-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City. The Impact allowed an 89th minute go ahead goal from Dom Dwyer after miscommunication at the back while Columbus was defeated by a rocket shot from Benny Feilhaber in stoppage time.

Both teams come into this match looking to for points as they attempt to climb up the conference ladder. From a Crew perspective, this is a game they need to have.

"This is a good game for us," forward Adam Bedell said. "They've turned it around a little bit, but you have to beat the teams you're supposed to beat. I feel like this is a game we should win, especially at home. We need three points here. We're very close to a playoff spot and if we get a win here we're right in the thick of things.

"I think everybody has a feeling that we should win this game and we're going to go out and work hard and hopeful do it."

Offensively, the Impact are averaging one goal per game over their first 17 contents, but have a potent attack when everything comes together through Jack McInerney, Marco Di Vaio, Andres Romero, and Justin Mapp.

"Good attacking quality," Berhalter spoke of Montreal. "Di Vaio has an unbelievable scoring record everywhere he's been so we know he's quality. McInerney is very good. Romero now is good and Mapp is very good. They have good players."

After coming from the Philadelphia Union early in the season, McInerney has scored six goals in 12 appearances for Montreal. Romero and Di Vaio - a member of MLS' Best XI in 2013 - follow him with four and three goal respectively. Mapp, a 13-year MLS veteran, is still going strong, leading the team with six assists on the year.

Defensively, the Impact is led by Springfield Ohio native goalkeeper Troy Perkins, who was the MLS Goalkeeper for the Year in 2006. This year though, Perkins is conceding nearly two goals per game. This could be a perfect recipe for Columbus, who continue to struggle to find the back of the net.

Columbus will be without linchpin midfielder Wil Trapp who will serve a one game suspension after receiving a red card on Wednesday.

Despite two bad losses this week, a win in this game could propel the Black and Gold right back up the standings. Three points could see the Crew rise as high as fourth in the Eastern Conference, while another disappointing performance might really send things off the tracks.