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Massive Predictions: Columbus Crew SC at Montreal Impact

After three at home, the Black & Gold head out on the road.

MLS: Montreal Impact at Columbus Crew SC Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

That was not the homestand Columbus Crew SC was looking for.

Three at home for the Black & Gold and the Columbus side comes out with one win and two losses. Ouch.

Now Crew SC heads on the road for three straight away from MAPFRE Stadium, including Saturday evening’s encounter with the Montreal Impact.

The good news for Columbus is the Impact have only two wins on the season and have struggled early in 2017. The bad news is the Black & Gold have only one win all time playing in Montreal and have struggled on the road this year.

After such a rough stretch at home, Crew SC need to start making up some ground on the road and this would be a good game to do it. But can they?

Let’s see what our esteemed staff thinks of this trip to Canada.

Kris Landis

Crew SC have been so inconsistent to start the year that predicting things on a game-by-game basis has quickly become impossible. Playing a third match in eight days, we may see some key pieces rested. But after only getting three of nine points from the homestand, Berhalter may feel that he needs to start his studs in a match that is very winnable on paper.

The Impact hasn't been at its best so far this season, with only two wins on the year. Montreal still has some very capable, dangerous players, but it just hasn't come off. With all of those factors, this one is very difficult to call. If Crew SC has something resembling a full strength lineup out there, I think they could well get something out of this, even though they've traditionally struggled in Montreal. If not, it could well go the opposite way. In the end I expect there to be some small amount of rotation, but not as much as some seem to be expecting. I think the "big guns" such as Ola Kamara, Justin Meram, and probably Federico Higuain play a reasonable amount of this match, and that Crew SC will ride them to a victory.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Montreal Impact 1

Ralph Schudel

Call me crazy (as I'm sure some of the staff will) but I feel this could be a trap game for Columbus Crew SC. Montreal's fortunes appear to be shifting and they are playing the hot-hand by keeping teenager Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla in the First XI. He has started the last two games for the Impact and has looking impressive; even scoring the game winner that saw Montreal edge out D.C. United 1-0.

Sure this isn't the same Impact team we all saw in 2015, but that doesn't mean they aren't dangerous. Ignacio Piatti, Dominic Oduro and the aforementioned Tabla all pose credible threats. Let's not forget about Evan Bush and what a talented shot-stopper he can be. It's going to take a special performance from Ola Kamara or Federico Higuain (assuming they play) to beat him.

It's difficult to win on the road in Major League Soccer and Stade Saputo hasn't been terribly kind to the Black & Gold. Unfortunately I don't see Columbus getting points from this one.
Montreal Impact 1 Columbus Crew SC 0

Josh Mlot

I'm sticking with what I said on the Massive Matchday podcast. It's really hard to win on the road in MLS, but Montreal is also a side that has struggled in some different ways. The Impact are still missing some personnel, but they do have Ignacio Piatti healthy again, and that is enough to make them dangerous. Ballou Tabla has added a dribbly dimension to the attack, but the underlying numbers reveal that Montreal gives up more chances than it creates, and that's not a baseline for success. The biggest challenges will be Piatti and the fullbacks, especially left back Ambroise Oyongo. Player rotation for Columbus creates a real wild card, because it's anyone's guess who plays and who doesn't. I'm on the record saying it is smart to rest Federico Higuain, even if the short-term return isn't great, because I think it's important for the long-term. So my prediction is based on Pipa sitting (at least not starting).
Columbus Crew SC 1 Montreal Impact 1

Guilherme Torres

After a frustrating three-match homestand, Columbus Crew SC will be on the road this weekend. The Montreal Impact have not been particularly impressive at home this season, winning only one of their fist three games. The Impact is having a rough year, nearing the bottom of the Eastern Conference, but it's important to notice that they played six of their nine matches so far as visitors.

The Canadians have a good momentum as they defeated D.C. United on the road last week and are obviously more rested than Crew SC as they last played on Saturday while the Black & Gold faced Toronto FC on Wednesday.

The Impact won't have forward Matteo Mancosu, but 18-year-old Ballou Tabla has been solid so far. They can also have the debut of Swiss Designated Player midfielder Blerim Dzemaili, who arrived in Montreal earlier this week. On the other hand, Crew SC might have a very different lineup compared to last match as the team heads to its third game in eight days.
Montreal Impact 2 Columbus Crew SC 1

Josh Enke

Crew SC will be on the road for a three-game run, kicking it off in Montreal with tired legs. Following Wednesday's frustrating late loss, Columbus will be encountering an Impact side likely debuting a fresh MLS face in playmaker Blerim Džemaili. While I look forward to seeing his first contributions in the Montreal midfield, my greatest concerns surround the visitors. Columbus has not won at Montreal under Gregg Berhalter.

This being the third game in a week's time for Crew SC, play might be sloppy. While Berhalter is usually loyal to many of his normal starters, he may be forced to test depth on Saturday as some regulars could be too fatigued. In an interview following the Toronto loss, Berhalter emphasized Columbus' slow ball movement. Tired legs and quick precise ball movement don't usually work well together. We'll have to see offensive flexibility from the visitors. Maybe some counter-attacking utilizing one of the many fresh and talented wingers on the bench. One player who will be rested and ready to put in a full ninety is Nicolai Naess. On Wednesday the team missed his quiet steadiness and ability to cut passing lanes. Another player I'm hoping to see is Artur. Apparently he's back to full training. That cast on his arm isn't so much a weakness as it is a tool to bludgeon opponents.

Unfortunately, I think the Black & Gold succumb to tired legs. While Montreal don't have the points to show it, the personnel on the Impact are fully capable of raising their team from the basement of the East.
Montreal Impact 2 Columbus Crew SC 1

Patrick Murphy

Let me preface this with, I don’t feel good about this game. First, MLS teams don’t often win on the road. The stats back it up even if the players don’t want to admit it. Second, I struggle to figure out how Crew SC look good in the team’s third match in eight days after a crushing defeat on Wednesday.

I thought the entire lost to Toronto looked like the players were walking through sand. It was evident the fatigue set in early and, if it weren’t for the penalty kick, the score might been worse. I assume Gregg Berhalter saw that too and will rotate his squad, but I’m not sure if that’s a good thing.

Federico Higuain has looked very good and active these last two games, but I don’t believe he can go for a third in quick succession. Justin Meram looked gassed to me from the opening whistle. Nico Hansen is a good replacement, but he doesn’t offer all the things Meram does. I could go on, but this is already more than I usually write in these predictions. Let’s just say I don’t see Saturday going well for Columbus.
Montreal Impact 2 Columbus Crew SC 0

Collin Johnson

Yet again, I'm interested to see how Crew SC rebound after a disheartening match. Fatigue will be an issue for the Black & Gold this week, so maybe we will see more than 10 minutes of Kekuta Manneh. Artur could provide a huge boost to a midfield that has, at times, struggled during his three-match absence, but Gregg Berhalter may be hesitant to use the Brazilian so soon after such a gruesome injury.

Montreal should have the full service of Ignacio Piatti, who could prove to be a huge problem for a tired Crew SC defense. It's always difficult to win an away match in MLS, and especially difficult to win on short rest. Hopefully Berhalter is able to concoct a rotation of players that can manage a result against a Montreal team that is just two points out of the MLS playoff picture.
Montreal Impact 2 Columbus Crew 1

Nathaniel Marhefka

Coming off of a disappointing loss, I fully expect Crew SC to rally in this one and edge an away win against Montreal. The Impact have had one of the worst starts in MLS this season and currently sit 10th in the Eastern Conference. Montreal likes to play very direct whereas the Crew will build slowly and look to pick them apart. I think that the patient team will win this one out and we may not see an array of chances either way.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Montreal Impact 1

Patrick Guldan

A weary Columbus Crew SC team takes to the road to battle an underperforming, but fresh Impact team that has been struggling on offense and defense this year. It remains very difficult to win on the road and especially so after a midweek match. Crew SC has to solve for the balance between performance and rotation. Which of the regulars still have enough left in the tank and which of the bench players is going to step up. Berhalter and the staff will have to get something out of Niko Hansen, Adam Jahn or Kekuta Manneh. I’m not sure it will be enough.
Montreal Impact 2 Columbus Crew SC 1

Can Crew SC come away with something on the road or will it be another disappointing day in Columbus? Let us know your prediction.