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Massive Predictions: Montreal Impact at Columbus Crew SC

Back at home, will Crew SC return to winning ways?

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Montreal Impact Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been three and a half weeks since Columbus Crew SC last played a game on the friendly field of MAPFRE Stadium. In that match, the Black & Gold continued the team’s dominance at home with a 3-0 win over the Seattle Sounders.

Crew SC return to MAPFRE Saturday night, welcoming in the Montreal Impact, knowing that three points is becoming a must after picking up nothing in four of its last five matches.

This will be the second meeting of the 2017 season between Columbus and Montreal. The two sides met on May 13 in a thrilling 3-2 victory for the Black & Gold on the road. That win came courtesy of a late Justin Meram goal that completed his first ever professional hat trick.

That contest also marked the last loss for the Impact, who have gone 2-0-2 in a little over a month, yet still sit near the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Montreal has made a shift in formation, playing with more of a five-man backline, which could cause Crew SC some troubles.

The Impact played on Wednesday as part of the Canadian Championship, so for once it will be the Black & Gold who are the more rested team on the weekend.

Can Columbus figure out how to break down the Impact and earn the team’s sixth home victory of the year? Let’s ask our staff what they think for this one.

Kris Landis

Crew SC need a win. It doesn't get much simpler than that. The problem is they're coming up against the Impact who are drawing matches left, right and center lately, including a high scoring affair with Orlando City.

I don't see this one being a defensive chess match, to put it mildly. There will be goals from both sides, and barring another herculean individual performance like Justin Meram's hat trick last time the two sides met, I see these two teams largely canceling each other out. I see another frustrating draw in our future.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Montreal Impact 2

Collin Johnson

Crew SC get the benefit of playing a team on short rest with Montreal having played Toronto in the Canadian Championship on Wednesday. Those extra days of rest should benefit a Columbus team that has lost two straight MLS matches. My big concern is Crew SC's ability to score goals if the starters can't get the job done. With Niko Hansen out with a hernia, the backup load will fall to Kekuta Manneh and Adam Jahn. That's not inspiring.

Still, I think Crew SC get a home win this week with Finlay finding the back of the net for the first time since Week 1.
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Josh Enke

We're underway in the second half of the 2017 season. The Montreal Impact face off again with a Columbus Crew SC side that has dipped since the first meeting. The past week irked the team and Crew fans alike. Defending MAPFRE Stadium should be of utmost priority.

As far as the home side's lineup is concerned, I expect the usual attacking four. Behind them, Wil Trapp and Artur seem to have a strengthening relationship in the central midfield. That should be a lock. The questions, as always, remain around the defense. Gregg Berhalter has put out virtually every combination of defenders possible so far this season. I'd like to see some semblance of consistency. Nicolai Naess should be back and, of all the defenders, he seems to be a stabilizing force. As far as who he's partnered with is anyone's guess. Same goes for the wing backs.

Montreal could very well have a strong second half of the season, but I don't think it starts in Columbus.
Columbus Crew SC 3 Montreal Impact 1

Patrick Murphy

I like what I’ve seen from the Impact’s attack this year. Ignacio Piatti is his usual self and Dominic Oduro continues to do what he does, but now the two are joined by Matteo Mancosu — who joined the club last summer but is yet to face Crew SC — and Blerim Dzemaili. That attacking quartet is as good as any in the league.

To help make up for a ho-hum defense, the Impact have shifted to five in the back in recent matches and will almost certainly bring that to Columbus. Despite the continual struggles against a compact defense, the Black & Gold believe they understand how to break down Montreal. That will be a key in this match.

The other factor will be avoiding the Impact’s counter attack, which can be lethal. The speed of the visitors will be on full display if Crew SC isn’t careful with the ball.

I see a high scoring affair with the home side getting the better of the result because that’s how MLS works.
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Josh Mlot

If you read my Big Picture discussions with Nate, you know that Montreal has impressed me of late. This is not the team that really suffered for being short handed early in the season. It is missing Ambrose Oyongo, who is a big piece, but mid-season signee Blerim Dzemaili has really given that team a boost. It's also made some tactical changes that appear to be serving it well. I think it's going to be a tough ask Columbus, honestly. I get stuck between still liking this team and the frustration of it's recent form. I also know getting back home to MAPFRE is a big deal. I'll say this ends in a draw, which won't do anything to appease frustrated fans.
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Nathaniel Marhefka

Finally back at home. It's so tough to win on the road this year in MLS and having this game at home against a surging Montreal side is huge. Had it been in Quebec, I'd be less optimistic (No Justin Meram hat trick this time around), but I do think that Crew SC will be able to edge out a win here at home. The Crew defense has been very shaky this season, so this prediction may seem ludicrous to some. Sure, Montreal has a decent attack with Ignacio Piatti and Blerim Dzemaili but this is in Columbus and I do not expect to see another match like we did in Orlando this past weekend.

Expect Montreal to come to town with a five-man backline once again, with Laurent Ciman heading the defense. This could play into Columbus' benefit, as the Black & Gold's passive defensive style may actually work well in this scenario. I hope that Gregg Berhalter comes with a game plan to control the center of the pitch and hopefully, therefore the match.
Columbus Crew SC 1 Montreal Impact 0

Guilherme Torres

Crew SC's moment is not its best in the season as the team has struggled with three straight losses in June. The Impact, despite being near to the bottom of the Eastern Conference, is undefeated in its last five matches.

The Canadians clearly have the best momentum and are tailored to play in transition, something Crew SC has struggled with, but the Black & Gold have their backs against the wall and will have to deliver a result at home.
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Patrick Guldan

Crew SC struggled recently on the road and getting to play at home should provide some relief to form that as dipped. The Impact also provide an excellent opportunity to rebound. Montreal’s offense is dangerous when Ignacio Piatti is over the ball and the recent addition of Blerim Džemaili has added an additional weapon in the midfield.

Their recent reorganization aside, the Impact defense still allows for enough opportunities for a Columbus offense that can create chances. Justin Meram did everything last week short of taking the shots himself to set up goals and Federico Higuain remains an elite creator. Columbus will get their chances and Ola Kamara and even Ethan Finlay are due to finish some.
Columbus Crew SC 3 Montreal Impact 1

Ralph Schudel

Now that we put last week behind us, it's time to move on. Columbus welcomes in Montreal. The Impact come in on a weird run of form. Two draws and two wins, plus the team just played in a Canadian Championship match on Wednesday.

There are a couple of areas of concern. Blerim Dzemaili and Ignacio Piatti have an incredible relationship that is budding between the both of them. They were responsible for all three of Montreal's goals last week. The Impact are going to look to run and hit Columbus on the counter. A tremendous amount of pressure will be put on Wil Trapp and Artur.

They need to remain steadfast in their approach and support the center defenders. This is a great chance for Columbus to get back to their winning ways.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Montreal Impact 1

Do you think Crew SC can get another home win on the season or are the Black & Gold in for more of the recent disappointment?