MLS Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs Montreal Impact

Competition: Major League Soccer – Columbus Crew vs. Montreal Impact 

Venue: MAPFRE Stadium – Saturday, May 7 – 19:30 EST (00:30 GMT)

Match Odds: Columbus Crew 5/6 – Draw 13/5 – Montreal Impact 16/5

Match Preview

Columbus Crew welcome high-flying Montreal Impact to MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday evening in a game which has plenty to offer.

Crew are still struggling in games and sit 9th in the Eastern Conference as a result. Not many would have predicted this sort of season for them and they need to work on turning things around.

Gregg Berhaulter’s side come into this one off the back of their 1-0 loss against Seattle, which ended their two game winning streak, their only two wins of the season so far.

Scoring has been a problem for Crew who have netted just seven goals in their eight games. In their three home outings they have won twice, so it appears that home form would be their best chance of pusing their way up the table.

Seattle Sounders vs Columbus Crew

Montreal Impact are sitting top of the Eastern Conference and are mounting a solid challenge for the Supporters’ Shield. Impact have already beaten Columbus Crew earlier this season, a 2-0 victory at home.

There is a little room for improvement for Mauro Biello’s team, who come into this one off the back of their 2-2 draw against Colorado.

Impact were in a winning position in the game against Colorado so will be ruing a missed chance to get back to winning ways. They are now winless in three (D2, L1)

MLS: New York City FC vs. Montreal Impact

Team News

Columbus Crew have two injury concerns, Gaston Sauro and Mohammed Saeid are doubts.

Montreal Impact have five players carrying injuries. Andres Romero, Cameron Porter, Donny Toia, Anthony Jackson-Hamel and Hassoun Camara are all expected to be out.

Key Points

Columbus Crew’s last five: D/L/W/W/L

Montreal Impact’s last five: W/W/L/D/D

Key Stat: Columbus have only lost once in seven all-time MLS home meetings against Montreal.

Key Player: Ignacio Piatti – The Montreal playmaker will be looking to breakdown the Crew defence who despite their lowly position in the league have only conceded ten goals.

MLS: New York City FC vs. Montreal Impact Ignacio Piatti

Score Prediction

Columbus Crew 1-2 Montreal Impact – Montreal to get back to winning ways and inflict more misery on Columbus.

Advertisements

Gallery: Exclusive photos from Seattle Sounders’ win against Columbus Crew

The Seattle Sounders continued their recovery with a third consecutive home win on Saturday night as Jordan Morris netted his third in as many games to seal a late 1-0 victory over the Columbus Crew.

Seattle bounced back from last week’s 3-1 loss in Colorado by keeping their second clean sheet of the season to take three huge points from Columbus on Saturday.

They had to weather the storm as the Crew dominated the play in the first half. But it was Jordan Morris’s predatory instincts in the closing minutes that shone through for the Sounders as they moved up to eighth in the Western Conference.

Columbus can’t seem to build any momentum and sit ninth in the East after eight games and have yet to win away from home.

Check out exclusive photos from Saturday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographer Denise McCooey.

Seattle Sounders vs Columbus Crew Jordan Morris Seattle Sounders vs Columbus Crew Seattle Sounders vs Columbus Crew Seattle Sounders vs Columbus Crew Dempsey Seattle Sounders vs Columbus Crew Seattle Sounders vs Columbus Crew Jordan Morris

MLS Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs Houston Dynamo

Competition: Major League Soccer – Columbus Crew vs. Houston Dynamo

Venue: MAPFRE Stadium – Saturday, April 23 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST) 

Match Odds: Columbus 4/5 – Draw 13/5 – Houston 100/30

Match Preview

Columbus Crew host Houston Dynamo is a clash between two sides desperate for points as they look to climb their respective conferences on Saturday night.

Columbus picked up their first win of the season in the 3-2 home victory against New York City last weekend, ending a run of five games without success to start the campaign.

Gregg Berhalter will be delighted to have seen his side seal three points and will see Saturday’s game as the perfect opportunity to make it two on the bounce. The Crew sit ninth heading into the weekend and need to start climbing the table quickly.

Embed from Getty Images

Houston aren’t faring much better themselves over in the West. Owen Coyle’s men have picked up the same amount of points as Columbus (5) after six games, but currently sit bottom of the Western Conference.

Last week’s 4-1 home defeat to LA Galaxy will have left supporters disappointed, particularly after the Dynamo took the lead inside 60 seconds. An improved performance this week is crucial to prevent panic setting in.

Embed from Getty Images

Houston have a poor record away in Columbus, having not won in eight attempts, and will need to be at their best to stand a chance of leaving with all three points this weekend.

These two sides met once last year, with Houston coming out on top in a 1-0 win at BBVA Compass Stadium in March. However, the Dynamo have not scored in their last two visits to MAPFRE Stadium.

Team News

Columbus will be without Gaston Sauro as he is still out with a hamstring injury, while Tony Tchani and Corey Ashe are doubts.

Houston have just one injury concern heading into the weekend as Rob Lovejoy is a doubt with a hamstring strain. Owen Coyle is expected to make changes to the side that lost 4-1 to LA Galaxy last time out.

Key Points

Columbus Crew’s last five: L/D/D/L/W

Houston Dynamo’s last five: W/L/L/D/L

Key Stat: Columbus have only lost one of ten home meetings against Houston in MLS, with that defeat coming in 2007.

Key Player: Ethan Finlay – The Columbus winger had his best game of the season last weekend as he tallied a goal and an assist in the 3-2 win over New York City. If he can build on that display, he’ll cause the Dynamo all kinds of problems.

Embed from Getty Images

Score Prediction

Columbus Crew 2-1 Houston Dynamo – Columbus might have had to wait six weeks to get their first win of 2016, but they should now follow it up with another home victory on Saturday. Houston have struggled so far, having not won in four, and don’t look set to trouble the Crew enough to seal three points here. Home win.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs New York City FC

Competition: Major League Soccer – Columbus Crew vs. New York City FC

Venue: MAPFRE Stadium – Saturday, April 16 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST) 

Match Odds: Columbus 10/11 – Draw 13/5 – NYCFC 3/1

Match Preview

Columbus Crew host New York City FC in a key Eastern Conference clash on Saturday evening, with both sides looking to snap winless runs in what should be an open and attacking contest.

Columbus have started the new season in terrible form. They have yet to win a game and have lost three of their opening five.

Last weekend’s 2-0 loss to Montreal saw the Crew fail to score for the second time in their last three matches and the team is not playing with the same attacking freedom that they showed last year.

Embed from Getty Images

Gregg Berhalter will be concerned but knows there is a long time left to turn things around. They need to give the home fans something to cheer about on Saturday as they try and lift themselves from the foot of the Eastern Conference.

New York City sit in fifth place heading into the weekend – a position they will be pleased with – but there is reason for concern, having not won since the opening day of the campaign.

What is perhaps more worrying for head coach Patrick Vieira is that their last four matches have all been at home, yet they have not been able to capitalise as they have picked up just three points from a possible 12 in that time.

MLS: NYCFC vs. Orlando Patrick Vieira

Their only away trip so far brought success (and lots of goals) as they beat Chicago 4-3 on the opening night. A 0-0 draw against the Fire last weekend proved they have solidified defensively in a short space of time but they need to be more clinical in front of goal, having netted once in their last three.

These two sides met twice last season, with Columbus yet to lose to NYCFC. The pair drew 2-2 in Columbus in August, before the Crew recorded a 2-1 win at Yankee Stadium 10 days later.

Team News

Columbus Crew look set to be without injured trio Corey Ashe, Conor Casey and Gaston Sauro for the visit of NYCFC. However, all are only suffering with minor injuries and will be fighting to be fit in time.

New York City have three injuries of their own to worry about. Frank Lampard has yet to make an appearance this term and is set to miss out again with an ongoing calf problem, while Connor Brandt and Jack Harrison are also ruled out.

Key Points

Columbus Crew’s last five: L/L/D/D/L

New York City’s last five: W/D/L/D/D

Key Stat: Columbus Crew are winless through their first five games for just the third time in their history (2004 & 2009). Failure to win on Saturday would see them record their second-longest winless start to a season yet. The longest stretch was seven matches in the 2009 campaign.

Key Player: Federico Higuain – The Columbus playmaker, like many of his teammates, has endured a slow start to the 2016 season. However, he possesses the quality to unlock any defence and will hope to inspire the Crew to a much-needed victory on Saturday evening.

Embed from Getty Images

Score Prediction

Columbus Crew 1-1 New York City – This is a big game for both sides as they look to recover from poor runs of form here. This has the makings of an open and attacking game, packed with chances. However, both sides have been lacking a clinical edge in front of goal and so there might not be as many goals as there perhaps should be. It could be a case of both sides cancelling each other out as a score draw looks likely.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Montreal Impact vs Columbus Crew

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

Match Preview

Montreal Impact welcome Columbus Crew to the Olympic Stadium on Saturday evening in what is an important early-season clash between two strong Eastern Conference outfits that are looking to improve.

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.

Team News

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.

Key Points

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

Score Prediction

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.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Portland Timbers vs Columbus Crew

Competition: Major League Soccer – Portland Timbers vs. Columbus Crew

Venue: Providence Park – Sunday, March 6 – 16:30 ET (21:30 GMT – Live on Sky Sports 1) 

Match Odds: Portland 23/20 – Draw 23/10 – Columbus 12/5

Match Preview

Portland Timbers host Columbus Crew in a repeat of the 2015 MLS Cup Final on Sunday night as the 2016 MLS Season springs into life in style.

Portland enter the new campaign as MLS Cup holders for the first time and now need to cope with that pressure against the side they beat 2-1 at MAPFRE Stadium in December.

Caleb Porter insists the team are preparing for this game as they do every other, but there is no question that bigger things are expected of the Timbers coming into 2016 than in any previous year.

Embed from Getty Images

They had a mixed preseason run, winning three of their eight games, but will need to improve on the back-to-back defeats that brought their preparations to a close.

Columbus didn’t win a game in any of their three preseason friendlies but will be out for revenge at Providence Park on Sunday, with the cup final defeat still at the very front of players’ minds.

Gregg Berhalter has not made many changes to the squad over the offseason and that should help the Crew maintain the same playing style from the outset here.

Embed from Getty Images

It will be intriguing to see how Kei Kamara performs after enjoying an incredible return to MLS last year. Finding the net in his first game would certainly set the tone for what could, and should be another good year for the Crew. He has just penned a new contract making him a Designated Player and will hope to deliver straight away.

Both sides are expected to be challenging at the top end of the Supporters’ Shield standings come the end of the regular season and so getting off to a good start will be important.

Team News

Portland are sweating over the fitness of defender Liam Ridgewell and winger Dairon Asprilla. Ridgewell has a tight calf but should be fit, though Asprilla might have to miss the opener with an ankle sprain. Other than that, Caleb Porter has a full squad available. New signing and former Crew man Chris Klute should start at left-back.

Columbus boss Gregg Berhalter has no injury concerns heading into the season opener and will be able to pick his strongest possible team as a result.

Key Points

Portland Timbers’ preseason form: L/D/W/W/D/W/L/L

Columbus Crew’s preseason form: D/D/L

Key Stat: Columbus have yet to win away at Portland in MLS (D2 L1).

Key Player: Diego Valeri – The Portland playmaker scored inside a minute when these sides met in last year’s MLS Cup Final. He will look to hurt Columbus yet again and is always a threat with his exceptional passing range.

Embed from Getty Images

Score Prediction

Portland Timbers 1-1 Columbus Crew – This is expected to be a tight battle between two sides desperate to avoid defeat on the opening day of the new season. Portland are the reigning champions but will need to handle the pressure of being favourites, rather than underdogs now. Columbus will be out for revenge but have yet to win in Portland and would do very well to leave with three points on Sunday.

2016 MLS Season Preview: Columbus Crew

As the 2016 MLS season edges closer, we’ll be publishing each team’s MLS 2016 Season Preview. Today we take a look at what Columbus Crew will be looking to achieve over the next nine months.

Columbus Crew enjoyed a good 2015 season last time out, with the highlight being the trip to the MLS Cup Final, where they unfortunately lost 2-1 to the Portland Timbers in a game that was almost out of their reach within the first ten minutes. Besides the obvious disappointment of how the year ended, they can be proud of their progress after knocking out favourites New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference Final. There was cause for concern after their slow start in which they only won one of the first five games, but they turned things around and finished second in the Eastern Conference. Crew fans will be looking forward to the new season, with much more expected of this dynamic, attacking squad. The aim will be to go one better than last year.

Last regular season finish:

Eastern Conference – Position: 2nd – P34 – W15 – D8 – L11

Embed from Getty Images

What needs to change this year?

As mentioned above, they need to start better this term. One win from their first five caused concern amongst fans and a similar start wouldn’t provide the required platform to push on from. However, the main concern to be addressed will be the team’s defensive record. The Crew may have finished second in the Eastern Conference, but they conceded the fourth-highest number of regular season goals in MLS. They must shore up at the back this term as they will look to better their record of six clean-sheets.

Key changes to squad:

Ins: Corey Ashe – Defender – Emil Larsen – Midfielder – Conor Casey – Forward – Amro Tarek – Defender – Rodrigo Saravia – Midfielder – Ola Kamara – Forward

OutsEmanuel Pogatetz – Defender – Kristinn Steindorsson – Midfielder – Ben Speas – Midfielder – Matt Lampson – Goalkeeper – Kevan George – Midfielder – Aaron Schoenfeld – Forward – Chris Klute – Defender – Jack McInerney – Forward – Sergio Campbell  Defender – Romain Gall – Midfielder

Key Player:

Embed from Getty Images

Kei Kamara – Forward – Kei Kamara was outstanding in 2015, providing some hugely important goals as he matched Golden Boot winner, Sebastian Giovinco’s tally of 22 goals over the course of the regular season. Despite some concerns, he is staying on with the Crew this season and will be a mainstay in the first team once more, should he keep himself fit. His aim will be to better last year’s excellent goal return.

One to Watch:

Ola Kamara – Forward – Columbus now have two Kamara’s in attack. Ola Kamara is a newly-acquired signing from Austria Wien, who has played international football for Norway. He can play as a winger or as an out-and-out striker and will provide cover for the front three this season in Ethan Finlay, Justin Meram and Kei Kamara. He will look to nail down a starting berth and could prove to be a dangerous outlet if given the sufficient minutes by Gregg Berhalter.

Embed from Getty Images

Predicted Finish:

Eastern Conference – 1st – The Crew ended 2015 as one of the most dangerous sides in MLS and will look to challenge at the very top of the Eastern Conference once again this term. There have not been many changes to their starting lineup and that probably puts them in the best position to push on in 2016 and go one better than their second-placed finish last year. Expect others like New York Red Bulls, DC United and Toronto FC to challenge for top spot, but over the course of the season we see Columbus leading the pack, with an immediate return to the MLS Cup Final a real possibility.

What are you expecting from Columbus Crew in 2016?

Portland secure first ever MLS Cup – Match report from Columbus

The Portland Timbers came into Columbus and the MLS Cup game as underdogs, but left as MLS Cup champions, triumphing over the Columbus Crew 2-1, with early goals from Diego Valeri and Rodney Wallace sealing the historic victory.

The Timbers enjoyed a dream start within 27 seconds of kickoff, when midfielder Diego Valeri took advantage of Columbus Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark’s horrendous error.

Valeri made a strong tackle on the ‘keeper and the Timbers quickly found themselves up 1-0 to the complete disbelief of the Crew and their fans.

Valeri’s goal was the fastest goal ever scored in MLS Cup history.

Embed from Getty Images

The Crew struggled to connect on their passes early on due to the Timbers’ high pressure on the midfield and defense. It eventually led to a crucial turnover that the Timbers capitalised on in the 7th minute to make it 2-0.

Portland midfielder Darlington Nagbe found winger Lucas Melano, who crossed it into the six-yard box. Rodney Wallace connected with a flying header and put the ball into the back of the Crew’s net to further stun the home crowd.

Controversy couldn’t stay away from this cup final, as replays later showed that the ball won by Powell in the build up to the goal was actually a couple of feet out of play.

Portland and Columbus had probably planned for most eventualities. But being two up after seven minutes is a strange situation for any side, let alone an away side in a final. The Timbers started the game like it was the 87th minute, and not the 7th.

With their backs against the wall, the Crew quickly came alive and regained control of the game. They continued to find chances in the first half and were eventually rewarded in the 18th minute.

The home team found fullback Harrison Afful, who crossed it into the penalty area. A goal-mouth scramble ensued and league-leading scorer Kei Kamara was on hand to finish.

Embed from Getty Images

Portland looked happy to hear the halftime whistle and head coach Caleb Porter sent them out in the second half with a solid game plan to hit Columbus on the break.

The Crew dominated possession and created chances. However, their finishing left them wanting, as they were unable to register a shot on target in the second half.

Portland took advantage of the Crew playing high up the field by countering back whenever they found the chance. That led to two huge opportunities that hit the woodwork as a third goal looked more likely that a Columbus equaliser.

Embed from Getty Images

The first left the Crew scrambling on a corner, as the ball fell to Wallace, who had his shot saved by Clark. The clearance then hit the crossbar before getting cleared.

The second chance came for Timbers striker Fanendo Adi as his header from Jorge Villafana’s cross hit the far post before hitting Steve Clark, who fumbled the ball out of bounds.

Both teams continued to fight tooth and nail for every loose ball and take any shot they could get. But as the final minutes of added time came and went the final whistle blew, the Timbers rushed onto the field knowing that they just won their first ever MLS Cup.

Kei Kamara left to “soak in” Portland celebrations by remaining on pitch

It was tough not to feel sympathetic for Kei Kamara as the Portland Timbers celebrated their first ever MLS Cup championship at MAPFRE Stadium on Sunday night.

The Columbus Crew star man’s goal wasn’t enough to complete a comeback as Portland won the 2015 MLS Cup Final by a 2-1 scoreline in Ohio, becoming the first team to lift the trophy on the road since the home advantage rule was introduced.

The Crew players quickly left the field at the final whistle, allowing Portland to celebrate their success, but one man remained as Kamara watched the Timbers’ celebrations for 15 minutes from a distance.

“I wanted to sit out there. I wanted to see what it feels like to lift that trophy,” he said afterwards.

“That’s why I was sitting out there. Those are the things that keep you going, working harder and harder.

“I’ve been there before – not to the final, but in games you really want to win. To me, it’s not just about getting up and walking away. It’s about seeing the other guys and how they feel, what that celebration is like. Because you want to feel that. That’s the feeling I was just soaking in.”

Embed from Getty Images

Kamara enjoyed a stunning first season with the Crew as he netted a total of 26 goals in 37 appearances. Although being left disappointed with the way the season ended on Sunday, the 31-year-old attacker praised the support he’s received from Columbus fans since arriving.

“They’ve shown me love from day one, from the first tweet I did saying ‘New Crew, I’m coming to this team.

“They’ve always shown me love. The fans have been amazing all year, and I appreciate them.”

Portland Timbers beat Columbus Crew to lift first ever MLS Cup title

The Portland Timbers have won their first ever MLS Cup title after beating the Columbus Crew 2-1 in Sunday’s dramatic final.

Diego Valeri, who earned the match MVP award, got Portland off to a dream start, scoring the fastest goal in MLS Cup Final history, before Rodney Wallace made it 2-0 on seven minutes.

The Crew fought back to make it 2-1 on 18 minutes as Kei Kamara gave the home crowd some hope but Portland managed to hold out to deservedly claim the 2015 MLS Cup title.

More reaction to follow…