Another week, another battle to secure playoff positioning. The storyline shifts to Montreal, Quebec, Canada as Columbus Crew SC head to the “Great White North” to take on the Montreal Impact. The Black & Gold played to a scoreless draw against the Philadelphia Union last week, delaying officially clinching a playoff at least another week.
The Impact are fighting for its playoff lives. Head coach Remi Garde and his men have the dubious task of fending off a suddenly hot D.C. United squad. The Impact collected seven of a possible 12 points in the month of September and look to improve in October.
Impact at a glance
Leading Scorer: Ignacio Piatti (13)
Assists Leader: Ignacio Pitti (13)
The attacking buildup
It’s not uncommon to see the Impact utilize a 4-3-3 formation when on the attack. Montreal’s front three are capable of creating some magic in the final third. Ignacio Piatti leads the attack from the left side. The Argentine looks to create from the wings and attempts to feed Quincy Amarikwa in the center of the park.
Not to be forgotten, Alejandro Silva is a creative playmaker who can unleash a venomous shot on goal at a moment’s notice. Together, the wingers combine for a lethal attack and they deal most of their damage on the counter.
The Impact’s defense advances the ball up the field quickly to find one of the aforementioned forwards. Montreal thrives off of the counter by creating three-on-two opportunities. It’s not unusual to see Piatti and another attacker run near post, while the other attacker delays his run to the far post. If the initial shot on target doesn’t find the back of the net, the trailing runner generally has a quality scoring chance.
It could be Garde’s French influence, but the Impact are quite good on set pieces. Montreal prefers far post runs and floating a ball to its center back Rod Fanni, who is lethal with his head. While defending set pieces, Fanni also is a commanding presence. The Frenchman provides a large obstacle for the opposition to lift the ball over. It’s takes a near perfect ball to beat him.
How Crew SC win
Columbus must guard against getting caught on the counter. Montreal prefer to play with a fast tempo and dictate the action. A couple of “professional fouls” to frustrate the opposition will be key in swinging momentum to the Black & Gold. Expect to see Gregg Berhalter and his staff use faster center backs to keep up with the Impact counter. The coaching staff may opt to keep Milton Valenzuela and Harrison Afful tucked further back in order to limit the effectiveness on the counter.
The Black & Gold will be successful on Saturday if they hit back with their counter attack. Montreal struggles with defending the left side of its defense, this could open up the possibility of a big game from Pedro Santos. The designated player could be presented with some great chances to find the scoresheet on Saturday afternoon.
As was the case last week, this match is a big one for both clubs. The result could be decided by whichever team is defending and attacking on the counter. Could this be the match that pushes Crew SC into the 2018 playoffs? Here’s hoping so.