On paper, it would appear that the Columbus Crew has a great chance of continuing its recent surge with a trip to Montreal on Saturday. The Impact currently sits at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, and has particularly struggled of late, going 1-8-0 over its last nine matches with two or more goals conceded in seven of its last eight contests as well.
But if anything is apparent to the Crew by now, it's that the nature of MLS is that any result is possible at any given time. Make no mistake, the Black & Gold are not taking the Impact lightly.
"They're a dangerous team," said defender Eric Gehrig. "We're not going to look at the points they have or the stats they have. We're going to look at what they have on the field. On their best day, they're a very good team, one of the best teams in the League."
On the Crew's side, of course, is its recent run of spectacular form. Winners of two straight after an impressive close to a three-match homestand, the Black & Gold are hoping to keep the good times rolling north of the border, knowing that they can always improve.
"We've had a good run here," continued Gehrig. "It's important to remember what we've done well and it's important to remember what we haven't done well. We need to use both of those things and keep it going into Montreal. We're preparing for a tough game because it's going to be tough."
Montreal has bulked up a bit since the club's first meeting with the Crew on July 19, trading for former Columbus winger Dilly Duka and signing Ignacio Piatti to a Designated Player contract. Piatti, especially, gives the Impact a creative presence behind strikers Jack McInerney and Marco Di Vaio, exactly what the doctor ordered for a struggling Montreal side.
"I think [Piatti is] quality," said Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. "He's a quality player. He's dangerous at creating chances and scoring goals. We know he's technically very good, [with] good vision. He's a good player."
As mentioned, the Impact also boast two quality strikers in Di Vaio and McInerney. When Montreal came to Crew Stadium earlier in the season, both started in a two-striker setup, but of late, Impact coach Frank Klopas has preferred to line-up in a one-striker formation. That's something that Berhalter will have a close eye on this weekend.
"I'm not even sure they're going to keep one striker," said the Crew boss. "They might play with two. You never know. They have two quality guys. I can imagine it would be difficult for a coach to leave one of them out. Who knows? I think that if they play one striker, they become more dangerous on the counter attack. They have midfielders that do a good job, whether it's Mapp, Romero, Piatti or Duka. They have a talented group."
The Crew's talent has been on display recently as well, and with a chance to grab three more points in the race for the MLS Cup Playoffs, you can bet that the Black & Gold will be as focused as ever on Saturday.