Montreal, QC (Sports Network) - The Montreal Impact will have plenty of
motivation when they take the Stade Saputo pitch on Saturday to face the
Not only will Montreal be hoping to return to winning ways after suffering its
first defeat of the season in a 2-0 loss at Sporting Kansas City, but the club
will be out to avenge a disappointing result against Columbus last season.
The two sides met at Crew Stadium on Sept. 1, 2012 and the Impact had grabbed
the lead through a classy finish from Marco Di Vaio. The visitors held a rare
lead away from home but continued to push forward and keep the match open,
allowing the Crew to win the match through late goals from Chad Marshall and
Emilio Renteria, both of which were set up by Federico Higuain.
This season, though, Montreal has proven to be more organized in defense and
tougher to break down. Patrice Bernier explained that experience has helped
the Impact manage in-game situations better.
"We're better equipped, and we can withstand pressure better with a view of a
surprise counterattack," the midfielder told MLSsoccer.com earlier this week.
"Toward the end of last season, we tended to dominate possession and away from
home, that was a risk: At the end of games, we wanted to keep pushing and gaps
opened for players like Higuain or [Jairo] Arrieta, who need space.
"We're now more experienced, more mature and better able to manage those tight
games and hold strong at the end."
Montreal's much-improved shape and mentality has yielded a better defensive
record as the club's four goals against have helped the Impact reach the
Eastern Conference summit through the first five games of the season.
Columbus, by comparison, sits four points off of Montreal's pace. The Crew are
quite wary of the Impact, who have started the season with a 4-0-1 record.
"[Montreal] had a good team last year, and obviously they've added some good
pieces in the offseason to help out Di Vaio up top with [Andrea] Pisanu from
Italy," Crew Technical Director Brian Bliss told the club's official website.
"The core of that group is still together and the first four weeks they were
"They're doing quite well and I think they're going to be a very tough task
for us on the road."
While the continuity of Montreal's squad certainly is a factor, the addition
of Marco Schallibaum at the head coaching position cannot be ignored as a key
reason for the club's turnaround.
"Because of the European influence in Montreal, they have a knowledgeable fan
base, a very passionate fan base," Bliss continued. "The Impact has brought in
a very European influence with their coach and a lot of their signings.
They're well-coached, they have a well-constructed roster."
The Sports Network