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Apr 26, 2024 5:46 pm

Crew host Montreal with Champions Cup match looming

Columbus Crew

A somewhat distracted Columbus Crew hope to end their five-match winless streak in league play when they host CF Montreal on Saturday.

The Crew (3-1-5, 14 points) have a loss and four consecutive ties in MLS since defeating the New York Red Bulls on March 16.

While gaining a victory over Montreal (3-3-2, 11 points) is important, the Crew’s main focus is preparing for next Wednesday’s second leg of the CONCACAF Champions Cup at Monterrey.

The Crew scored a historic 2-1 win at home over the Mexican powerhouse on Wednesday. It was just the seventh loss in the past 47 Champions Cup (and its predecessor, the Champions League) matches for Monterrey, which has won the title five times.

A win or tie at Monterrey would send the Crew to the final with the opportunity to join the Seattle Sounders (2022) as the only MLS teams to win the tournament.

With so much at stake, the Crew is expected to make several lineup changes against Montreal. That doesn’t diminish the confidence of Crew coach Wilfried Nancy, who has been in charge the past two seasons after two years as the Montreal head coach.

“I don’t know what is going to happen next week, but the fact is that we’ve been good,” he said. “My players showed that they can face any team and any kind of style of play, knowing that we know that it’s going to be difficult.”

Meanwhile, first-year Montreal coach Laurent Courtois returns to a familiar city.

He was hired by the Crew as a youth development coach in 2019 and spent the past two seasons as the head coach of the Columbus Crew 2 in MLS Next Pro, winning the league championship in 2022.

Montreal has a win and a 2-2 tie after three straight losses. The draw was the result of conceding a goal in the second minute of stoppage time against Orlando City last Saturday after Montreal took the lead four minutes earlier.

Courtois took the blame.

“We thought we got through the worst of it, so this feels like a bit of a lesson in humility,” he said. “It’s also a lesson for me. When we get into this kind of situation, what can I do differently so that this doesn’t happen again?”

–Field Level Media

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