Competition: MLS Playoffs (Eastern Conference Semifinal First Leg) – Montreal Impact vs. Columbus Crew
Venue: Saputo Stadium – Sunday, November 1 – 19:00 ET (00:00 GMT)
Match Odds: Montreal Impact 6/5 – Draw 13/5 – Columbus Crew 21/10
After a 3-0 knockout round win over Toronto on Thursday Montreal will feel confident of progressing into the Eastern Conference Final after the two legs with Columbus.
Much of their recent success is down to Didier Drogba and his sensational goalscoring record since arriving in the summer. He has now scored 12 in his last 11 matches in MLS.Embed from Getty Images
With four wins on the bounce, you’d be brave to bet against the Impact in this one. They are a real force at home and deserve to be where they are right now.
Montreal Impact’s regular season record: P34 – W15 – D6 – L13
Columbus have been excellent this season and display consistency that is not to be underestimated. They are the favourites to win over two legs when you consider their regular season form but this is the MLS Playoffs and anything can happen as we’ve already seen this week.
Remarkably, Columbus lost both matches against Montreal during the regular season and so it seems the Canadian’s have the Crew’s number.
Columbus have been handed a boost however, as Kei Kamara is expected to start after serving his one-game suspension. The striker has been so important for them going forward this season and his tally of 22 goals – tied most in the regular season – is a fearful statistic for the Impact.
Columbus Crew’s regular season record: P34 – W15 – D8 – L11Embed from Getty Images
Federico Higuain will also return for the Crew as they look set to strengthen in attack for the game, despite banging five past DC United last Sunday in that 5-0 win.
Montreal Impact will be missing Cameron Porter, Kenny Cooper and Andres Romero, who are all out injured. Justin Mapp is a doubt. The Impact are likely to field an unchanged team to the one that beat Toronto. Didier Drogba had a first-half injury scare on Thursday but went on to play 90 minutes and should be fine to play.
Columbus Crew are without Kristinn Steindorsson through injury. Tony Tchani is questionable with a sore right thigh, while Matt Lampson and Chad Barson are both doubts. Federico Higuain and Kei Kamara will return after missing the final game of the season.
Montreal Impact’s last five in MLS: L/W/W/W/W
Columbus Crew’s last five in MLS: W/L/L/W/W
Key Stat: Montreal Impact have won their last six at home in MLS, including Thursday’s 3-0 playoff demolition of Toronto.
Key Player: Didier Drogba – The Ivorian striker has been sensational since moving to Montreal and with 12 goals in 12 games it’s impossible to look past him as the difference-maker on Sunday night.Embed from Getty Images
Montreal Impact 1-0 Columbus Crew – Montreal have the added advantage of a 3-0 win in midweek to take into the game, however, Columbus have been consistent all season and have had an extra week to recover for this one. We’re expecting a nervy first leg for both sides but can see home-field advantage helping Montreal to narrowly win this one.