MONTREAL — The Montreal Impact know they have to shut down the Crew’s Kei Kamara if they want to get a rare result on the road.
Kamara, who leads Major League Soccer with 10 goals from 13 matches, will look to prolong Montreal’s road woes when the Impact visit Columbus’ Mapfre Stadium on Saturday.
“He’s a guy you have to be aware of, especially in the box,” said Impact coach Frank Klopas before practice on Friday. “He’s very dangerous. You always have to be aware of him, especially when balls go out wide, through crosses.
“We just have to be compact as a team. Our box-defending has to be spot on.”
The 30-year-old Kamara has been relentless since the start of the season. He has 10 of his team’s 19 goals, with seven of those coming on home turf. The speedy forward also leads the league with 24 shots on target.
Montreal, in comparison, has scored 11 goals all season.
The Crew are undefeated (4-0-3) when Kamara scores, and they’re winless (0-5-1) when he doesn’t. With his goal against Orlando City last Saturday, the Sierra Leonan set a club record for fastest player to reach 10 goals.
“He gets on the end of a lot of things,” said Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush, who leads the league with 4.5 saves per game. “You certainly have to know where he is. But a lot of what he does is a by-product of the guys around him.
“Kamara is certainly finishing off a lot of plays, but there are a lot of guys around him giving him good service.”
Two of those playmakers are midfielders Federico Higuain and Ethan Finlay. Like Montreal’s Ignacio Piatti, Higuain is an attacking midfielder who orchestrates play, commands the offence and sets up his teammates. Finlay, on the wing, leads all MLS players with seven assists.
The Impact (3-4-2) are looking to improve their league-worst away record. Klopas’ men are 0-3-1 away from Saputo Stadium this season and have yet to score a goal on the road. Last away game, Montreal took back-to-back wins into Chicago only to be thumped 3-0.
Montreal has not won in 26 MLS road matches dating back to Sept. 8, 2013. Since then, the Impact have been outscored 49-16 away from home.
“We’ll take a draw on the road,” said striker Jack McInerney, who has two goals in his last three games. “If we can keep a zero, we can give ourselves a chance. Obviously this team can score goals. If we defend with all 11 players, we’ll have a good shot.”
The Crew (4-5-4) are tough to beat at home. Gregg Berhalter’s team is 4-1-1 on the season and undefeated at Mapfre Stadium in its last four. Columbus has a league best plus-8 goal differential at home this season and is 10-2-1 in its last 13 in Columbus.
“They’re going to throw everything at us,” said McInerney. “Everyone knows that we struggle on the road, so they’re going to have their foot on the gas probably the whole time. The first 20 minutes of the game will be the hardest. We’ll just have to ride out the storm.”
Notes: Montreal has won three of its last four matches. … Columbus is coming off a 3-0 loss against the Philadelphia Union. … Montreal’s Victor Cabrera (ankle) and Dilly Duka (concussion symptoms) will not be in the lineup. … The Crew are 5-0-0 all-time versus the Impact when playing at home. … Piatti and McInerney each have two career goals versus Columbus.
Kelsey Patterson, The Canadian Press