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Preview: CF Montreal vs. Columbus Crew - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Major League Soccer clash between CF Montreal and Columbus Crew, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

CF Montreal take on Columbus Crew in the Eastern Conference of MLS on Saturday, with the hosts looking to remain top of the table after a promising start to the season.

Columbus Crew, meanwhile, are looking to defend their MLS Championship title having won the playoffs last year.


Match preview

Montreal Impact celebrate the team's winning goal against the D.C. United in the second half at Audi Field in November 2020© Reuters

Montreal have never won the MLS since being inducted into the competition in 2012, with their best efforts so far representing a semi-final appearance in 2015.

However, having appointed Wilfried Nancy as manager last month, the early signs suggest they may have a team to seriously compete this time around after a disappointing spell under Thierry Henry came to an end in February, with one win and one draw taking them to the top of the Eastern Conference table.

Both matches were thoroughly entertaining, too, with designated players Djordje Mihailovic and former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Victor Wanyama both scoring in a 4-2 win over Canadian rivals Toronto FC on the opening day, before Nancy's side blew a two-goal lead against Nashville SC.

As such, Nancy's priority will almost certainly be tightening up his defence without dramatically reducing their attacking threat, with MLS champions Columbus Crew sure to test their rearguard on multiple occasions on Saturday.

Columbus Crew players celebrate on stage with the MLS Cup championship trophy after defeating the Seattle Sounders in the 2020 MLS Cup Final at MAPFRE Stadium in December 2020© Reuters

Due to competing in the CONCACAF Champions League as a result of winning the MLS Championship last season, Columbus Crew have only played one league game so far this season.

It was an uneventful one, too, with Caleb Porter's side playing out a goalless draw with Philadelphia Union. Both sides had similar possession and shot counts, so a share of the spoils was probably a fair outcome in the end.

Columbus Crew are aiming to join an exclusive club of teams who have retained the title, with only DC United, Houston Dynamo and Los Angeles Galaxy having achieved this feat in MLS history.

Porter has recruited MLS legend Bradley Wright-Phillips, who has scored 136 goals in 264 appearances for American sides since joining New York Red Bulls in 2013, in order to help them scale new heights.

The former Southampton forward got off the mark with a late winner against Real Esteli recently, and will be desperate to score his first league goal for the club on Saturday.

CF Montreal Major League Soccer form:
  • W
  • D

Columbus Crew Major League Soccer form:
  • D

Columbus Crew form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • D



Team News

Columbus Crew head coach Caleb Porter reacts against the Seattle Sounders in the second half during the 2020 MLS Cup Final at MAPFRE Stadium in December 2020© Reuters

Montreal will remain without Mathieu Choiniere, Lassi Lappalainen and Luis Binks due to injury.

Nancy may look to bring Joel Waterman back into his defence, but otherwise is unlikely to make any changes to the XI which drew against Nashville.

Columbus Crew, meanwhile, are likely to travel without Vito Wormgoor, Darlington Nagbe, Kevin Molino, Marlon Hairston, Evan Bush and Aidan Morris due to injury.

Derrick Etienne made his comeback from the bench in the draw against Philadelphia so will be hoping to be involved again, while Wright-Phillips could be in line for his first league start for the club.

However, Porter has a short turnaround to consider after his side's 2-2 draw against Monterrey in their CONCACAF Champions League quarter-final first leg on Wednesday, so may look to heavily rotate ahead of the second leg next week.

CF Montreal possible starting lineup:
Diop; Waterman, Camacho, Miller; Brault-Guillard, Piette, Wanyama, Kizza; Mihailovic; Quioto, Toye

Columbus Crew possible starting lineup:
Room; Afful, Jonathan, Williams, Valenzuela; Artur, Kitchen; Espinoza, Zelarayan, Santos; Zardes


SM words green background

We say: CF Montreal 2-1 Columbus Crew

Ordinarily we would make the visitors favourites here, but given their congested schedule, their priorities may lie elsewhere.

Montreal have certainly not looked shy of goals so far this season and, as such, they could punish a potentially fatigued and under-strength Columbus Crew defence.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data


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How you voted: Montreal vs Columbus Crew

CF Montreal
42.9%
Draw
42.9%
Columbus Crew
14.3%
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Thierry Henry pictured in charge of Montreal Impact in March 2020
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Tables

Eastern Conference

TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1New England RevolutionNew England8521117417
2Philadelphia UnionPhiladelphia842295414
3Orlando City733184412
4New York City FCNY City7322137611
5Nashville SCNashville725096311
6CF MontrealMontreal8323109111
7Columbus Crew732276111
8Atlanta UnitedAtlanta724197210
9New York Red BullsNY Red Bulls7304101009
10DC United8305811-39
11Inter MiamiInter Miami8224813-58
12Toronto7124812-45
13Chicago Fire7115411-74
14FC CincinnatiCincinnati6114615-94

Western Conference

TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1New England RevolutionNew England8521117417
2Philadelphia UnionPhiladelphia842295414
3Orlando City733184412
4New York City FCNY City7322137611
5Nashville SCNashville725096311
6CF MontrealMontreal8323109111
7Columbus Crew732276111
8Atlanta UnitedAtlanta724197210
9New York Red BullsNY Red Bulls7304101009
10DC United8305811-39
11Inter MiamiInter Miami8224813-58
12Toronto7124812-45
13Chicago Fire7115411-74
14FC CincinnatiCincinnati6114615-94

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