Match Preview: Impact plays decisive game of Eastern semifinal in Columbus Sunday

Impact won first leg of the home-and-away series 2-1. The winner will move on to the Conference Championships against the winner of the New York Red Bulls versus D.C. United series.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Montreal Impact takes on the Columbus Crew SC at MAPFRE Stadium, in Ohio, this Sunday, at 5pm ET, in the return match of the Eastern Conference semifinal series. (TSN, RDS, 98.5FM, TSN Radio 690).

The team that comes out on top after the two games will move on to the Conference Championships against the winner of the New York Red Bulls versus D.C. United series.

Going into Columbus with their 2-1 win last weekend at Stade Saputo, a win, a draw or a one goal loss where the score is higher than 2-1 would push them through on away goals, but the Bleu-blanc-noir is avoiding scenario watching and focusing on its game.

“We don’t want to focus too much on the different scenarios,” said Impact head coach Mauro Biello. “We want to focus on what it is we need to do to get a result. It’s going to be an emotional battle. We want to play with intensity and put pressure on them, but make sure we don’t go too far.”

The Impact knows that the situation is very different at home for the Crew SC, and expect its opponent to come out strong from the first whistle.

“We have to defend as a group, as we’ve been doing, in order to withstand the early pressure we expect from them,” said defender Laurent Ciman. “But we can’t sit back too much either because they will play long balls to Kamara and we know how good he is in the air.”

In the only meeting at MAPFRE Stadium between the two clubs this season, IMFC came away with a 2-0 victory. After coming from behind last weekend against the black and gold, the Impact is confident they can hit the next gear on Sunday.

“We know that they are probably going to have the ball more than us, especially at home, so it’s up to us to be better mentally when we have the ball,” explained captain Patrice Bernier. “We have shown a lot of character in recent games, and we’ve been really good defensively, so continuing that will be key.”

The winner of this series will qualify for the Conference Championship, set for November 22 and 29, following a two-week hiatus due to the FIFA break, with times and broadcast yet to be determined.

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