June 6 was the low point of the Major League Soccer season for Columbus Crew SC. The side lost 2-1 at home to the Montreal Impact, a team that had struggled in league play up to that point, which was the Black & Gold's fifth consecutive game without a win.
Since that point, Columbus has turned things around some. Four games later and Crew SC hasn't lost since that match, climbing to second place in the Eastern Conference after last week's 2-1 win over the New York Red Bulls.
Montreal hasn't been in nearly as good of form since that victory at MAPFRE Stadium. The Impact have gone 1-3-1 since earning three points in Columbus and will looking to turn things around in this game at home.
To learn more about the team, Massive Report turned to Sofiane Benzaza, the Manager of Mount Royal Soccer.
Questions for Mount Royal Soccer
Massive Report: The Impact have had a rather hectic schedule with the team's run to the CONCACAF Champions League Final, which cut into MLS play significantly. The bad news from that is the team has only played 15 league games, while the good news is there are plenty of matches ahead. How has the quirky nature of the schedule affected Montreal and how will it impact (yes, pun intended) the team going forward?
Mount Royal Soccer: Pun accepted. The quirky schedule has not always helped the Impact during the CCL run but was advantageous afterwards, especially when the team starting to accumulate wins, at least home wins. The good news about the condensed schedule was that the team's depth has been tested and passed with flying colors. Not only did the coaching/technical have a plethora of players available to play but [they're] actually quality. When you talk a certain number of quality players competing for the same spot, you have a stronger squad as a philosophy of healthy internal competition implements itself. It only helps the players and the team as a whole.
Yes, Klopas has the spine of the team set already in advance but is confident that he can plug in anyone, anytime and be confident that he can maximize the player' potential.
MR: Evan Bush, an Ohio native, emerged as Montreal's goalkeeper about this time last season and hasn't looked back. What's his story and how important has he been in the net since taking over as the No. 1 option?
MRS: He is an intense player and a quiet, relaxed person. Under the tutelage of GK coach, Yousseff Daha, Bush has only gotten better since being named 2011 NASL Goalkeeper of the Year. After 2.5 years as the backup goalkeeper behind Donovan Ricketts and Troy Perkins (Ohio connection again), he gets his chance and made his name during the CCL run. He proved that he is a No. 1 though his last performance vs [New York City FC] was not great and he is the first to admit it. Mentally, he is strong with an underestimated athletic ability and a keen sense of anticipation. He is still progressing and his potential is far from being fulfilled.
MR: In the first meeting between these two clubs, Crew SC's last defeat, the Black & Gold dominated possession (56.9 percent) and shots (20-9), but the Impact's compact defensive style and counterattacks did Columbus in. What kind of game do you expect on Saturday from Montreal? Will we see more of the same or will the Impact open things up a bit more at home?
MRS: The Impact will open it up as they always do at home. The players will still continue to play a counter-attacking style with quick breaks when they can but it will depend on what the Crew is willing and able to do at Stade Saputo. I do feel that the Impact is getting better at playing a style relying on ball possession but is not as mature as you wanted them to. Montreal will always try to kill a game within the first 15-20 minutes to score a couple of goals, a sort of ''all-in'' attitude that has really been its trademark in 2015.
To see Massive Report's answers to Mount Royal Soccer's questions, head over to their site here.