Editors’ Note: American betting odds are based on $100 bets. Favorites are expressed by a lower number, heavily favorited teams will often be expressed with (-). So, for example, if the betting odds for a club are -150, you would need to bet $150 to make $100. Whereas, if the odds are +150, a $100 bet would payout $150
The Columbus Crew enter Match 16 of the Major League Soccer regular season coming off of the heels of the club’s toughest stretch of matches this year. After an encouraging 2-1 victory against Minnesota United, the Crew was humbled against rivals Toronto FC, falling 3-1 in the Trillium Cup matchup. The Black & Gold followed that up by rebounding and earning a tough road point in a 2-2 draw against FC Dallas.
For the first time this season, Columbus has now conceded goals in three consecutive matches and has a goal differential of -1 through the tough three match stretch. But now the Black & Gold return home to host the Montreal Impact.
Columbus Crew: D-W-W-L-D
Montreal Impact: L-L-L-L-D
While eight points in five matches is the worst form of the season for Columbus, its opponents on Wednesday enter the match with only one point through five. It should come as no surprise that the safe bet Wednesday is the league-leading Crew seizing its’ eighth victory at MAPFRE Stadium of the year over Montreal. Columbus is heavily favored -222 to Montreal’s staggering +519. The likelihood of a draw? Not likely at +354.
While some naysayers of the Black & Gold may point to the last two matches’ results and claim the Crew isn’t as good as billed, Columbus is yet to lose or draw at home this season, currently best in the league at 7-0-0. The Crew sit at the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings, ions above Impact, currently sitting 17th.
Even with the absence of key players such as Darlington Nagbe, Lucas Zelarayan and possibly Eloy Room, Columbus has shown that its depth can stand up against clubs towards the top of the ladder with shorthanded victories against Minnesota United and the Philadelphia Union.
As the Black & Gold enters into a congested final stretch of the season, it is matches like Wednesday’s that the Crew can look at to build its lead over a tough Eastern Conference filled with clubs nipping at the heels of the Black & Gold. Despite some recent setbacks, the Crew still has a path to the Supporters’ Shield and potential home-field advantage through the MLS Cup playoffs, which is vital as Columbus has proven impossible to beat at MAPFRE Stadium thus far.
While many fans’ eyes are set on the tougher threats ahead against the likes of Orlando City, New York City FC and Philadelphia Union, contests like Wednesday’s could control the fate of Columbus’ season. The Crew has to strike hard in favored matches against clubs such as Montreal, FC Cincinnati, D.C. United and Atlanta United to create a much needed-points buffer so that potentially less favorable matches against clubs higher on the table don’t have the ability to derail what has been a historic season for the Columbus.
There is no such thing as a sure thing in MLS, but one would be unwise to bet against the Crew as the team enters hungry for a win against a club in Montreal seemingly unable to find victory.