Major League Soccer

Crew-Montreal Preview

Wilfried Nancy admits he is expecting an improvement from CF Montreal when they face the Columbus Crew, despite his side's unbeaten start to the season.

Montreal beat Toronto 4-2 in their opening game and followed that up with a 2-2 draw at Nashville last time out to climb top of the early Eastern Conference standings.

The Canadian side squandered a two-goal lead in the second half of their most recent match, however, and Nancy has spent this week working to cut out defensive errors.

"I had a good meeting with the players," Nancy said. "We have performed well with the ball and in attacking transitions. Defensively we are aggressive, but we can be a little better.

"Now we have to find the right balance between the two. From the 60th minute against Nashville, we made decisions that were not so good. We lost the ball too quickly and rushed.

"But we have to continue because that's the direction I want the team to play. We know very well that there will be times, too, when we will not be able to defend by moving forward.

"But I don't want it to last long. I want things to happen here."

MLS Cup holders Columbus have played just one league game so far this season - a goalless draw with last season's Supporters' Shield winners Philadelphia Union two weeks ago.

The Crew drew 2-2 with Monterrey in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday, but all focus now is on their meeting with Montreal at DRV PNK Stadium.

And though head coach Caleb Porter was furious with decisions that went against his side in that continental match, he feels there are positives to take away from the draw.

"I'm very proud of my group and pleased with the way they approached the game," he said. "Even though we didn't get the win, it was a game in which our team, players and club grew as a whole.

"We showed we can go toe-to-toe with a great team and can take confidence and belief from it into the next match."

Montreal - Mason Toye

Toye opened the scoring for Montreal in their win over Toronto and likewise in the entertaining draw with Nashville via an inch-perfect side-footed shot into the far corner. The 22-year-old scored six goals for Minnesota United in the 2019 campaign and will now be looking to better than tally over the remainder of this season.

Columbus Crew - Lucas Zelarayan

The Crew may have fired a blank in their opening league match against Philadelphia Union, but it was not for the want of trying as far as Zelarayan is concerned. The attacking midfielder had three shots and laid on three chances for his team-mates, meaning he was directly involved in half of his side's 12 shots in that game.

- Montreal has won three of its last four matches against Columbus, including a 2-1 victory at Historic Crew Stadium against the eventual MLS Cup Champions last October (L1).

- The Crew had been unbeaten in five straight against Montreal (W3 D2) prior to this run.

- The Impact has opened its season with a win and a draw for the second straight year. Montreal has gone unbeaten through three matches of a season just once in its history, winning its first four games to begin the 2013 campaign.

- Columbus drew 0-0 with the Union in its season opener. The only time the Crew has gone scoreless in their first two matches of a season or kept a clean sheet in their first two matches of a season was in 2007, when they played scoreless draws again New York Red Bulls and Real Salt Lake to begin the campaign.

- Toye has scored in Montreal's first two matches this season. This is the third straight season that a Montreal player has scored in the team's first two matches of a season after Maximiliano Urruti in 2020 and Saphir Taider before him in 2019.

Updated April 30, 2021

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