MLS

CF Montreal v Columbus Crew: Champions Cup final preparations Nancy's focus

By Sports Desk May 15, 2024

Wilfried Nancy says the Columbus Crew will use their next three road games in MLS to prepare for the CONCACAF Champions Cup final, starting with Wednesday's trip to CF Montreal.

MLS Cup holders Columbus will face Mexican side Pachuca in the Champions Cup final on June 1, having seen off Monterrey in the semi-finals earlier this month.

Before then, they face visits to Nancy's former employers Montreal, as well as the Chicago Fire and Orlando, in MLS. Last Saturday's 2-1 home defeat to FC Cincinnati left the Crew eighth in the Eastern Conference standings. 

Asked about the challenges presented by their road stretch, Nancy said: "It's exciting. We'll play many games, we'll face different kinds of teams. 

"We want to challenge ourselves. We want to get better and find ways to have good performances. We have this spirit.

"This is the spirit of my team, the spirit of wanting to do well. We'll play Montreal, then Chicago and Orlando, then we play the final. Three games to prepare the final. This is the way we see it."

Montreal are just three points behind Columbus, having seen a 2-0 lead evaporate in their 3-2 defeat to Inter Miami last time out.

Despite the loss, midfielder Bryce Duke was encouraged by the way Montreal kept Lionel Messi quiet, saying: "We need to keep going in this direction and get results. 

"It's going to be a tough month ahead. It will be important to recover and be ready for Wednesday.

"It's a great achievement to contain Messi, now the aim will be to keep the lead next time and play the full 90 minutes."

PLAYERS TO WATCH 

CF Montreal – Jules-Anthony Vilsaint

Vilsaint recorded a goal and an assist against Miami, his second MLS game with one of each, with the other coming versus Columbus last September. 

The only Canadian with more such games than Vilsaint for Montreal in MLS is Patrice Bernier, with five.

Columbus Crew – Max Arfsten 

Arfsten scored what proved to be a late consolation off the bench against Cincinnati, his third career goal as a substitute in MLS (including playoffs).

Only three players have more goals off the bench in MLS play since the beginning of last season – Duncan McGuire with six, Josef Martinez with five and Tyler Wolff with four.

MATCH PREDICTION – DRAW

Columbus are unbeaten in their last four meetings with Montreal, including a scoreless draw when the sides met in April.

The Crew's longest ever unbeaten run against Montreal is five matches, their last streak of that length being recorded between 2016 and 2018.

They had their nine-game unbeaten streak across all competitions snapped by Cincinnati last time out, though seven of those matches had finished level. Montreal tend to be solid at home, so another draw could be on the cards.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

CF Montreal – 36.8%

Columbus Crew – 34.7%

Draw – 28.5%

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