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What We Learned: Crew at Montreal Impact

Here are the most eye-popping conclusions of Columbus’ second road setback in 2019.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Montreal Impact Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Crew SC returned to the road after two weeks and suffered its second loss of the 2019 Major League Soccer season as the Black & Gold were taken down 1-0 by the Montreal Impact at the Saputo Stadium.

It was a frustrating night for Columbus and here are some conclusions from the match:

You have to finish your chances on the road

The consensus of the Crew’s locker room after the game was that the team deserved better from a fairly well-played match on the road. The players were also unanimous when they identified their main problem in Montreal.

“The fact that we’re getting in those positions is great, but the execution and scoring the goals is the most important thing,” captain Wil Trapp said.

Gyasi Zardes, Robinho and Federico Higuain all had good chances to score in the first half, but they couldn’t convert the chances and the game went Montreal’s way. Road games are tough and if you have one chance to put them to bed, you definitely need to do it.

We saw that goal coming

Maxi Urruti’s main strength as a striker, as weird as it may sound, is his ability to press defenders. This skill has been weaponized by his coaches in the last few years and the Crew was aware of it coming into this game.

Nevertheless, the Black & Gold became another victim of the Argentinean forward as he dispossessed Jonathan Mensah and fed Harry Novillo for the game-winning goal. As head coach Caleb Porter stated in the post-match press conference, they should have a done a better job on it.

“It was a play we knew could happen,” he recognized. “We talked about it with him being a great pressing player. We have to learn from that moment. It was a ball from their goalkeeper launched in and it’s in the back of the net because we don’t manage it well.”

Wil Trapp is more of an offensive weapon now

One of the most noticeable changes of the Crew’s playing style is the role of Wil Trapp. With head coach Gregg Berhalter, the captain’s passing skills were mostly used to help the team build out of the back, but in 2019 the midfielder is stepping more often in the attacking third and helping the team to create chances.

Against the Impact, Trapp played an outstanding through ball to Hector Jimenez in the first half, which the fullback passed to Higuain, who had his shot blocked by Evan Bush in one of the team’s best chances.

The midfielder’s passing chart in Montreal shows well his new role:

That field…

When the broadcast started, more impactful than the team’s lineups was the state of the field at Saputo Stadium. The grass looked more yellow and brown than green and what seemed to be a very rugged turf.

I obviously understand that the winter has barely ended and this is not to say that the field condition impacted either team, but it’s certainly bad publicity for MLS to have matches in such bad scenarios.

Did anything else stand out to you about the Crew’s second defeat of the season?