Pregame - Montréal v Columbus

Montreal looking to impose its game plan against defending champs

The season is now in full swing as we get set to enter the third week of action in MLS. After opening the season with a dominant win over Toronto, followed by a tough draw in Nashville last week, Wilfried Nancy’s men get set for what may be their stiffest test yet, this Saturday at 3pm: the Columbus Crew SC (TVA Sports, TSN, CTV, 91.9 Sports, TSN 690).

The defending champion in MLS boasts a balanced squad with its fair share of star players. The Ohio team played to a scoreless draw against the Philadelphia Union in its only MLS game of the season so far and will be determined to get its first victory of the season soon rather than later as the season rolls along.

“They’re the defending champions and we have to respect that,” said head coach Wilfried Nancy. “We know the season is long, so if they won last year, it’s because they deserved it. I’m happy to face them and take on a team that’s going to cause us problems. We’re also going to cause our share of problems and we’re looking forward to it. They’re a good team, but we’re going to play with the intention of getting all three points.”

Columbus will have to manage its squad, as Caleb Porter’s men are coming off a clash against Monterrey in the Champions League last Wednesday, with the second leg set to be played on Wednesday. With three games in eight days, we can surely expect to see some rotation in their starting 11.

But Nancy isn’t too concerned with what his opponent will look like on gameday, focusing instead on the team’s positive start to the season. Montreal currently sits first in the Eastern Conference, leading the league in many key attacking categories.

“The guys are working well,” explained Nancy. “Our start to the season is a result of the work being carried out with the players, but also a result of the players adhering to the work. I find the team is much better on the ball at the moment, which allows the players to express themselves, feel more liberated and be prolific. They have the right attitude and for now things are working great.”

Injury update

Centre-back Luis Binks continues to be sidelined with an injury, although there has been some progression for Lassi Lappalainen and Ballou Tabla.

“Lassi has been back with the group for about two weeks now,” said Nancy. “He’s been feeling good physically, but he had a little trouble keeping up with the collective rhythm. He’s starting to find his rhythm and is showing a lot of interesting things in training. He’ll be ready soon, but his availability isn’t clear yet for this weekend. Ballou is also coming back from injury. He’s gradually getting better and closer to his usual form.”

The head coach specified that both players can be available for Saturday’s game against the Columbus Crew SC.