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Columbus Crew SC vs. Montreal Impact | 2017 MLS Match Preview

Columbus Crew SC vs. Montreal Impact
2017 MLS Regular Season
MAPFRE Stadium – Columbus, Ohio
June 24, 2017 – 7:30 pm ET
WATCH: TVAS (CAN) | MLS LIVE (USA)

As the calendar creeps slowly towards July, teams begin to hit the midpoint of their regular seasons and urgency starts to creep in. And though Columbus Crew SC currently sit in the final Eastern Conference playoff place, they understand their upcoming stretch of home games – starting with Saturday’s clash against the Montreal Impact – could have a significant bearing whether they remain in one of those six spots when all is said and done.

“We have three games until the [July] break and we’re gonna look to pick up some points,” coach Gregg Berhalter said of a stretch that includes a pair of games against in-conference opponents in Montreal and Atlanta. “It’s not gonna be easy. One thing about this league is games are difficult, but we’re gonna put enough into it that we can hopefully get some points in these games.”

The Impact are not quite at the same stage yet, having played two games fewer than every team above them in the Eastern Conference. But sitting down at 10th in the table, the urgency to pick up points, especially against an in- is certainly there.

Columbus Crew SC

Berhalter has shown himself to be one of the most tactically adept coaches in the league, and regularly rotates between a number of formations including 4-2-3-1, 4-1-4-1 and 3-4-2-1. And while it's allowed him to adapt to almost any situation, he conceded after a 3-1 loss to Atlanta that he may need to simplify things over the next couple weeks in order to get his team on a winning run.

“I think I’ve asked a lot of the guys this year. I think we did a lot of tactical changes and we’ve played a number of different formations and at a certain point it becomes confusing and there could be an element of, ‘Listen, we need to get back to who we are,’” Berhalter said after the Atlanta loss. “We’re proud of who we are, we’re proud that we can adapt, but we also need to know the fundamentals, the basis of our formation and how we want to play.”

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: None
  • Int’l Duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT – D Gaston Sauro (left PCL surgery), M Ben Swanson (right ankle surgery), M Niko Hansen (hernia surgery); QUESTIONABLE – F Kekuta Manneh (right foot sprain), D Nicolai Naess (neck pain)

Projected Formation (4-2-3-1, right to left): Zack Steffen – Harrison Afful, Josh Williams, Jonathan Mensah, Jukka Raitala – Artur, Wil Trapp – Ethan Finlay, Federico Higuain, Justin Meram – Ola Kamara

Notes: Columbus have alternated losses and wins in their last four home games. Both of their wins were shutouts in which Crew SC scored multiple goals. … Justin Meram has 24 regular season assists since the start of the 2015 season, tied for the fifth most of any player in the league across that timespan. 

Montreal Impact

Will Montreal's three-headed monster finally be unleashed? That's the question on the lips of Impact fans after the return of veteran forward Matteo Mancosu from injury. The Italian has scored or assisted in each of his three appearances across all competitions and now looks set to form a tantalizing attacking partnership with newly acquired midfielder Blerim Dzemaili and erstwhile star Ignacio Piatti.

“He's still not at 100 percent,” cautioned Impact head coach Mauro Biello after Wednesday night's 1-1 draw against Toronto FC in the first leg of the 2017 Canadian Championship final. “There's still rhythm that's lacking, but he's a goalscorer. He was able to be at the right spot today and score that goal.”

Once Mancosu hits full fitness, however, Biello sees good things ahead for his new attacking trio.

“It's only a couple weeks that [Mancosu's] back at training,” he said. “We've got so many games, that we can't really work on too many things, it's all about recovery. Once we [are], with Mancosu, Dzemaili, and Piatti, it becomes three guys who are going to attract a lot of attention and there are going to be openings to go forward for sure.”

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: Daniel Lovitz
  • Int’l Duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT – D Ambroise Oyongo (right knee surgery); M Louis Beland-Goyette (undisclosed injury)

Projected Formation (5-3-2, right to left): Evan Bush – Chris Duvall, Wandrille Lefevre, Laurent Ciman, Kyle Fisher, Daniel Lovitz – Patrice Bernier, Blerim Dzemaili, Marco Donadel – Matteo Mancosu, Ignacio Piatti

Notes: Montreal have scored in nine consecutive MLS games (4W-2L-3D). They have scored in 10 or more consecutive games in the same MLS season only twice before in franchise history. … Piatti had two goals and an assist for just the second time in his MLS career against Orlando last weekend (76 total MLS appearances). 

All-Time Series

This is the second meeting and final between the two teams this year. Montreal have won three of the last six regular season meetings against Columbus (1L-2D). However, Crew SC won the most recent meeting earlier this season, 3-2 in Montreal.

  • Overall: Columbus 7 wins (22 goals) … Montreal 5 wins (21 goals) … Ties 3
  • At CLB: Columbus 5 wins (15 goals) … Montreal 1 win (8 goals) … Ties 2

Referees

Referee: Armando Villarreal
Assistant Referees: Nick Uranga, Corey Parker
4th Official: Robert Sibiga

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