We've been here before folks, about a month ago, when Maxim Tissot broke the away-wins curse by burying a ball into the Columbus net in the 55th minute. We would go on to win that match, delivering the first away win for l'Impact de Montréal since 2013.
Unfortunately for us, the young Québécois is off on gold cup duty with the Canadian men's national team,who drew 0-0 with El Salvador Wednesday night in a rather dull affair.
That leaves the responsibility to score on the backs of the two attacking Argentines; Andres Romero and Ignacio Piatti. They'll be up against another formidable Argentine attacker in Federico Higuaín. Impact Media, clever folks that they are, have been billing this event as the Argentine tango. Let's hope Piatti and Romero bring their dancing shoes.
What is on the line?
A play-off spot. We're in ninth with 18 points. NYCFC are in 7th with 20. To jump ahead of them, we need all three points here. C'est tout.
Where can I watch?
Stade Saputo, July 11th at 8pm. Be there or be square. Alternatively, you can watch it on TVA Sports and listen to Fréderic Lord's excellent commentary. You can also listen to the match on TSN 690 or watch an American feed on MLS Live. Incidentally, the MLS Live feed is called 'Soccer Night in Ohio', which is kind of comical.
I, and social media, talk a lot about Higuain. I've seen him play, and he's a gem to watch. But he isn't the star attraction on the Crew roster. That would be Kei Kamara, who has 12 goals. Ethan Finlay has only 5 goals, but has a jaw-dropping 10 assists. Shutting him down in the midfield is more important than a tango with Higuain or Kamara. Ironically, Marco Donadel is exactly the type of player that can get under Finlay's skin. Let's put him to use.
Also, can Frank Klopas please instruct Laurent Ciman and Ambroise Oyongo to keep an eye on Waylon Francis, s'il vous plait? He is a play-making machine (5 assists this year) and is deadly from both set pieces and the run of play. Tackle hard, and takle often when he is above the half way line.
Probably Starting XI
Keeper: Evan Bush
Defenders: Ambroise Oyongo, Wandrille Lefèvre, Laurent Ciman, Donny Toia
Defensive Midfield: Marco Donadel, Calum Mallace
Offensive Midfield: Dominic Oduro, Ignacio Piatti, Andres Romero
Attacker: Jack McInerney
Keys to Victory:
We've done this before. The Columbus Crew are beatable. Yeah, they're tearing up the East, but there is no reason why it couldn't be Montréal in that same position in 3 weeks. We're an awesome team; the team that took Club América to the brink and knocked Alajuelense and Pachuca out of the Champion's League.
I view soccer less as a game of strategy and more a game of emotion. I think the no. 12 jersey of the Impact fan is the most important. We need to give our players something to play for, and an empty stadium is not going to do that. Bring your parents, or a friend, or a hockey nut (tell them P.K. Subban will be there or something) or even a casual observer. The tickets are cheap, the beer is cold, the fans are gregarious and seeing the Ultras wave the blue-blanc-noir and the Fleur-de-lis can move even the most passive observers.
So my strategy is basically ‘give the players something to play for'. Oh, and shut down Finlay in the midfield. That'll help too.
Bon match, et allez Montréal! Columbus... let's dance!