Competition: Major League Soccer – Montreal Impact vs. Columbus Crew
Stadium: Olympic Stadium – Saturday, April 9 – 16:00 ET (21:00 BST)
Match Odds: Montreal 11/10 – Draw 12/5 – Columbus 12/5
Montreal started the season in fine form, winning back-to-back games against Vancouver and New York Red Bulls, but have lost both games since without scoring a goal.
Head coach Mauro Biello will be concerned with the sudden drop in form, but will see Saturday’s home clash with Columbus as the perfect opportunity to get back on track.Embed from Getty Images
These two sides met in last season’s playoffs, with Columbus advancing past Montreal over two legs by a 4-3 aggregate scoreline and so the Impact will be out for revenge here.
Before the season started, many viewed Columbus Crew as one of the overriding favourites for the Eastern Conference title this season. However, they have yet to win any of their four games and are stuck at the foot of the East.
There is no clear reason behind their slump. This current Columbus team stayed intact over the offseason after finishing 2015 as MLS Cup runners-up. An immediate improvement is needed, particularly given the squad strength.Embed from Getty Images
Beating Montreal this weekend would represent improvement. The Crew’s 1-1 draw with FC Dallas last weekend was a positive result but getting that first win of the campaign will be the main priority now.
These two sides met twice over the course of the regular season last term, with Montreal winning both games before they then faced off in the two playoff meetings in November.
Montreal will be without Didier Drogba once again as the Ivorian striker will not play on the artificial surface at the Olympic Stadium. However, Montreal will return to Stade Saputo for home games after Saturday’s match and so Drogba’s return to regular action isn’t far away. Andres Romero and Cameron Porter remain sidelined, while Maxime Crepeau and Marco Donadel are both doubts.
Columbus have three injury concerns heading into Saturday’s game with doubts hanging over Corey Ashe, Ola Kamara and Conor Casey. Gregg Berhalter could name an unchanged team to the side that drew at FC Dallas last weekend, with Justin Meram expected to remain in the starting lineup following his goal.
Montreal Impact’s form: W/W/L/L
Columbus Crew’s form: L/L/D/D
Key Stat: There has been at least two goals scored in all 13 meetings between Montreal and Columbus over the past four years. There have been a total of 35 goals over those 13 games – an average of 2.7 per match.
Key Player: Ignacio Piatti – The Argentine playmaker started the season in unstoppable form but has struggled over the past two weeks. He will look to shine in Montreal’s second home match of the season and the Impact need him on song if they are to get past Columbus.Embed from Getty Images
Montreal Impact 1-1 Columbus Crew – This should be a very tight encounter between two sides that are desperate for three points on Saturday evening. A case can be made for both, although a draw looks the most likely result – something that won’t really help either side as they look to climb the Eastern Conference.