With the Montreal Impact flying to Columbus (Ohio), Mount Royal Soccer and Massive Report have gladly played the Three Questions game where each blog asks 3 questions to the other. It's a great way to know another Montreal Impact Eastern Conference rivals, from the Midwest.
Mount Royal Soccer asks Massive Report
*For Montreal Impact fans that are discovering the MLS and want to know the Columbus Crew, how would describe the 2012 Columbus Crew as a unit, game philosophy?*
Gritty, hardworking, and defense first, in the style of a 4-4-2 EPL team of the mid 90's. Coach Robert Warzycha stresses fitness and effort and the team will stay compact on the defensive end. The offense is where there are more questions than answers.
The team has the personnel to shut down opponents. Goalkeeper William Hesmer already set team records for wins and shutouts. Central defender Chad Marshall is the team captain and a two time league defender of the year. He's very capable of shutting down most, if not all, of the strikers in MLS. He's flanked by vet Danny O'Rourke, filling in for the injured Julius James. O'Rourke is a hard tackling tough man. He is the epitome of the team spirit. They form a tough, hard working spine of the team. Chilean Sebastian Miranda locks down the right back spot, but the left back spot is unsettled since Josh Gardner joined the Impact, Shaun Francis is the starter for now.
Moving up the field, Milovan Mirosevic is expected to shoulder a heavy load on offense. He will control the pace of play from the center of the field. He can play as an attacking midfielder or forward, but he's played a very central role so far. He's expected to pick out the perfect pass to the wings or link up with the forwards. Rookie Kirk Urso plays next to Mirosevic as the holding midfielder. He was picked in the Supplemental Draft and rocketed up the depth chart. He has a fierce shot and can score from distance. Eddie Gaven plays a steady right wing. He's not a speed demon, but he's crafty and draws a lot of fouls. He always seems to keep the offense moving. Dilly Duka is the starter on the left, but is still injured. Rookie Ethan Finlay played in relief during the last game and 2nd year winger Bernardo Anor has trained with the first team too. They are expected to get up the line and fire in crosses.
Emilio Renteria may be the most physical forward in MLS. He's built like a boulder and can certainly play with a physical defender. He also has speed to be able to stretch a defense. He's can be a potent goal scorer with 8 goals last year, but hasn't played a full season yet after picking up several injuries during his time in Columbus. Costa Rican import Olman Vargas is finally fit and expected to start next to Renteria. He is a physical target forward. He's dangerous with his head and will crash the 6 yard box with abandon.
*Do you see the bye week for the the Columbus Crew to be a good thing or a bad thing? With a few friendlies vs College team, were there adjustments made by the coaching staff?*
It may have been nice for the team to have another league game to rebound, but it gave the team more playing time together in a low pressure game situation. Hesmer appears ready to start in goal after a long layoff following an early preseason ankle injury. Urso and Mirosevic have another week to build a partnership in midfield.
The biggest adjustment is that the team has Vargas up to speed. After playing in a 4-5-1 in Colorado, the team dropped Tony Tchani to the 2nd team and put Vargas in and switched to the 4-4-2. Vargas had been trying to get up to speed after an offseason injury and he looks ready to play. Several players have talked about how they are more comfortable in the 4-4-2 style and many fans have been pleading to see the team to switch away from the 5 midfielders.
*How do you see the midfield battle between the Columbus Crew and the Montreal Impact? the Montreal Impact enjoys ball possession with the Patrice Bernier - Felipe Martins duo but not necessarily very physical, but physical enough*
It's going to be a 2 v. 2 battle as Mirosevic is the offensive minded midfielder and Urso handles more of the defensive capabilities. The Crew also have wingers that are able to pinch in. Gaven is especially adept at giving the Crew an extra man in the center of the field as he tucks in from the right.
Since it's going to be two similar systems, both 4-4-2s, they may cancel each other out. Then the battles will probably shift to the wings as the Crew will try to stretch play out. Montreal likely has reviewed the tapes and seen that the Crew is vulnerable on the edges and likewise play a little wider. The game may end up being more one of counterpunches rather than a posession battle in midfield.
Big Thanks to Massive Report to take the time to answer our questions and let Montreal Impact fans and readers to get to know the Columbus Crew. You can see Mount Royal Soccer's answers to Massive Report by clicking here.