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10 things on Columbus Crew SC

The Montreal Impact is playing four of its next five games in all competitions at home. It all starts this Saturday, at 5pm EDT, against Columbus Crew SC (TICKETS – TVA Sports, 98,5FM & TSN Radio 690). Here are 10 things to know on the next visitors at Stade Saputo.

Context

Crew SC started the season well, notably with a sequence of four wins in five games. But Gregg Berhalter’s men have slowed down a bit of late. They’ve lost three of their last four games, two of which were played at home. Columbus was playing at MAPFRE Stadium this Wednesday night against Toronto FC, and the visitors came from behind with two goals in the last ten minutes to clinch a 2-1 win. The suspended Berhalter wasn’t on the bench on Wednesday, but he’ll be back in charge this Saturday at Stade Saputo.

Current form

L-W-L-L-W-L

Head coach

Gregg Berhalter (42-40-31 all-time as Columbus Crew SC head coach) has been head coach and sporting director of Crew SC since November 6, 2013, months after new owner Anthony Precourt took over the club. As Precourt worked on reinventing the club’s brand, Berhalter worked on reinventing the team’s style, bringing them back to the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time in three seasons on his first attempt. After an Eastern Conference semifinal loss to New England Revolution, in 2014, Berhalter led Crew SC to the 2015 MLS Cup, where the Portland Timbers prevailed. His team must do better than in 2016, however, as it missed out on the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Current top scorer

Ola Kamara (6)

Players to watch

1. Justin Meram (#9) – The left winger still loves cutting inside, and he’s struck a great partnership with forward Ola Kamara, who will float wide on occasion.

2. Federico Higuaín (#10) – Pipa has slowed down physically, but he can still pull off a magic trick or two.

3. Wil Trapp (#20) – His reading of the play and of opening spaces benefits his more advanced teammates.

Team profile

Here is what Impact Media wrote on June 16, 2016: “Berhalter’s Crew SC wants to play. It is among the best in MLS when it comes to holding the ball, playing it short but never refraining from widening the play to strongly involved side backs. These two players bring width to Crew SC’s game, but they will cut inside from time to time to receive a through ball. If they do work their flank, cutbacks and crosses remain dangerous even though one Kamara made way for another. Ola may not bring the same physical presence that Kei did, but his skills could lead to more efficiency for the Crew down the middle, while also maintaining the team’s usual strengths. Behind Kamara, Federico Higuaín enjoys a rather free role – building up play next to Trapp, moving forward as a nominal second striker, etc. Higuaín is also one of those players that can turn a game around with an unpredictable moment of magic. Either side of him, wide midfielders – whether their name is Hector Jimenez, Ethan Finlay or Justin Meram – look for pockets of space in central positions. As such, the flanks can be freed up in the defensive transition, and Columbus remains vulnerable in wide positions; since May, Crew SC has conceded on a cross against Montreal, on a cross and on a corner kick against Salt Lake and again on a cross against Philadelphia.”

Shots on target*

Goals scored from inside the penalty area

Goals scored from outside the penalty area

Goals scored on headers

2nd (51)

4th (15)

13th (1)

15th (1)

Possession (%)

Big chance conversion (%)

Successful passes in attacking third (%)

Duels won (%)

2nd (53.2%)

16th (52.6%)

2nd (69.2%)

17th (48.1%)

*Source for all data is Opta

Tactical formation

Gregg Berhalter usually doesn’t veer away from 4-2-3-1, but the Columbus boss replied to Toronto’s back three with a back three of his own. Lineup v. Toronto (May 10): Steffen; Williams, Crognale, Mensah; Finlay, Trapp, Higuaín, Abu, Francis; Kamara, Meram.

Most recent games against the Impact

The Bleu-blanc-noir remained undefeated against Crew SC last season. Montreal first scored two headed goals on April 9 at Olympic Stadium to beat Columbus by a score of 2-0. A month later, on May 7, the Impact found itself down 4-1 at MAPFRE Stadium. But the visitors managed to score three goals without reply and left Ohio with a 4-4- tie. The Bleu-blanc-noir experienced a more serene game on its return to Columbus on June 18, clinching a 0-0 tie during which the home team only put one shot on target.

Injuries, absences and call-ups (as of May 11)

GK Brad Stuver (elbow)
D Gastón Sauro (knee)
M Ben Swanson (ankle)
M Artur (wrist – back in training)

Next games

New England Revolution v Columbus Crew SC (MLS, May 21)
Toronto FC v Columbus Crew SC (MLS, May 26)
Columbus Crew SC v Seattle Sounders FC (MLS, May 31)

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