It’s been rough sailing this past week if you are a Columbus Crew SC fan, but fret no longer — it’s time for another home stand! While Columbus has mustered up a record of 2-7-0 on the road, it has been dynamite inside of MAPFRE Stadium.
In 2017, Crew SC has enjoyed a record of 5-2-1 and is set to welcome Montreal Impact to Columbus on Saturday Night. You may remember Columbus’ last encounter with the Canadian side as “Meram’s Mother’s Day Miracle.”
How did that title come about? Columbus Crew SC released a video pregame with the player’s mothers wishing them all good luck, but Justin’s mom had a bit of a different message. She told her son to “score a goal,” and he did just that. Except he surpassed her expectations by 300 percent and Meram’s hat-trick powered the Black and Gold to a win at Stade Saputo.
Montreal comes to the capital city this week and is going through an adjustment phase. Since the clubs’ last encounter, the Impact have won twice and drawn twice. They have tried new formations and new lineups, but they can’t seem to get things right as they sit in 10th place in the Eastern Conference.
Let’s take another look at the Montreal Impact.
Impact at a Glance:
Record: 4-4-6 (1.29 points-per-game)
Leading Goal Scorer: Ignacio Piatti (8)
Assists Leader: Piatti, Patrice Bernier (3)
What to watch for:
There has been a budding bromance that has befallen Blerim Dzemaili and Ignacio Piatti. In their last match against Orlando City the pair influenced all three of Montreal’s goals. Montreal fans are quite excited for this relationship to develop as it may spell good things going forward.
If Columbus lets Dzemaili and Piatti run free on Saturday, it could spell a long evening for the Black & Gold.
A tip of the cap must be made towards Mauro Biello — he is trying many different things to right the ship in Montreal and these two dynamic players are behind the Impact’s success, no matter how limited it may be.
Last week against Orlando, Montreal came out in a 5-3-2 formation, looked to contain the Lions’ offense and maintain possession. Orlando easily found a way around the new defensive look and got three goals as a reward.
For Columbus to be successful, it must pass the ball quickly and with purpose. Crew SC needs to have zero wasted movement, as Montreal will look to bring the counter quickly. Given Columbus’ recent run of form that could be problematic.
You can read more about the Black & Gold vs. the Impact’s new-look defensive approach HERE.
The Canadian Championship:
When Montreal arrives in Columbus, it will not be the first match it has played this week, following a date with Toronto FC on Wednesday night as part of the Canadian Championship. The match finished at 1-1 but many of the Impact’s starters went the distance.
Translation: Players like Piatti, Dzemaili, and Laurent Ciman are likely to be quite tired if they see time on Saturday night. Given Montreal’s run of form, I expect those players to set foot on the pitch on Saturday night, but in what shape?
Montreal comes into this match with almost identical challenges that Crew SC faced going into Stade Saputo. It will be intriguing to see what version of this Impact team will show up. Will conditioning prove to be a difference maker?
The Ohio native and former Akron Zip is someone you need to keep an eye on. Montreal may not be having the season it dreamt of, but Bush is capable of turning a game on its head. Columbus will have to work exceptionally hard to beat this keeper. Especially if Montreal march out the new 5-3-2 formation and bunker.
How Columbus wins:
Like most of the Crew SC opposition, Montreal will look to bunker. As I mentioned previously, the key to success will be Columbus’ ability to unleash quick and effective passing. It is imperative to limit turnovers and mental lapses and move the ball with urgency. It would also be refreshing to see the defensive midfielders (presumably Wil Trapp and Artur) stay back a bit more and shield the center of the defense.
Trapp and Artur must take care of the ball as if they are the last line of defense and have no help behind them. Columbus frequently gets exposed in its system because everyone moves forward, but few remain back in case of a counter. Thus, leaving the central defenders all by their lonesome and in a less than desirable predicament.
Montreal is weak at defending players that thrive in the air and teams that are good at set pieces. That got me thinking ... Crew SC has come dangerously close to getting Alex Crognale and Jonathan Mensah on the score sheet this season. Might this be a great time for them to break through against a weaker opponent?
Those are my thoughts; what do you think about Montreal?
Is their something I missed? Let me know in the comments below.