It hasn't been the start of the season Columbus Crew SC had hoped, but the Black & Gold enter this match as the team who haven't lost in two matches, not the club on a two-game slide. Of course the Montreal Impact do sit in second place in the Eastern Conference, but that just speaks to the start we're having in Major League Soccer.
The Impact sit at 2-2 on the year after opening the season with two impressive wins. What's most impressive is the lack of an impact (pun intended) from star striker Didier Drogba, who has appeared just once this season as a substitute after an impressive debut year in MLS in 2015.
Little is known about any MLS team at this point in the season, but to get some idea of what we might see on Saturday afternoon, we turned to John Richan of SB Nation's Mount Royal Soccer to preview this match.
Questions for Mount Royal Soccer
Massive Report: After 11 goals in 11 games last year, Didier Drogba has just one substitute appearance due to not wanting to play on turf. Three part question here. First, how do Montreal fans feel about this? Second, do the Impact need Drogba? Finally, do you expect him to play much of a part in this contest?
Mount Royal Soccer: This is a question that is coming up week in and week out. I think anyone that followed the Impact in 2015 knew that when Drogba re-committed to joining Montreal his playing time on turf would be minimal. There has been a lot of hype around this issue and I think part of it has to do with the way the early season schedule has played out with so many games on turf to start 2016. I think if Drogba can be healthy and motivated (and around) late in the season and in to the playoffs he will be a very big piece for the Impact. Drogba receives a lot of praise for his ability to score goes, but his ability to defend on set pieces is also huge, and an area the team has been hurting on so far this year. Unfortunately, from an Impact perspective there is no chance Drogba will feature in the game this weekend.
MR: Crew SC faced the team that ended their championship hopes in the Portland Timbers to start the year, yet the team emphasized it was not a revenge game. What is the sense with Montreal about this game with Columbus after the playoff battle a year ago?
MRS: Although it is an early season game for Montreal I do believe the Impact see this as a game to try and get revenge against the Crew. Although things might change when the game kicks-off, there is a sense that both supporters and players want to win this one (especially coming off two tough loses on the road).
MR: After two impressive wins to start the season, the Impact has dropped its last two games. Are fans believing what they saw from victories over the Vancouver Whitecaps and the New York Red Bulls or is the team more like the one that lost to FC Dallas and the Seattle Sounders? Is it somewhere in the middle?
MRS: I would have to go with somewhere in the middle. I mentioned in an earlier article on MRS that I thought that this team would be better than the one under Frank Klopas last season, but not as strong as the one that went on a big run at the end of last season. The last few games Montreal has been without starters, midfielder Marco Donadel and defender Ambroise Oyongo. An MLS season is so long I think it's important try and find some good chemistry throughout the season and be ready when the end of season comes around. The two areas in which I think the Impact have improved over the off season are with depth (with the additions of Harry Shipp and Lucas Ontivero) and with team discipline. While the rest of MLS is complaining about red cards being issued, Montreal has been able to keep their composure and fly under the radar...at least so far.
To see Massive Report's answers to Mount Royal, check out the Q & A over on their site.