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By ALAN FERGUSON
(AP) -- The Montreal Impact earned their first point as an MLS franchise in a front of a record-setting crowd but were denied an inaugural win.
The Impact will try to record that milestone against the Columbus Crew, who might have top goalkeeper William Hesmer back on the field for their home opener Saturday.
Following a 2-0 loss to Vancouver in his franchise's opening game, Montreal captain Davy Arnaud put his team on track for a win by scoring in the 56th minute last Saturday against Chicago. The Impact, though, had to settle for a 1-all draw in front of 58,912 fans at Olympic Stadium, the largest crowd to witness a professional soccer match in Montreal history.
"I think that the guys feel confident based on how they played," coach Jesse Marsch told the league's website. "They're disappointed that they didn't get three points, but I think there's a belief and an understanding within the group that it's coming together."
Montreal (0-1-1) will continue that work against Columbus (0-1-0), which will attempt to rebound from a disappointing season debut. The Crew were outshot 17-5 during a 2-0 defeat at Colorado on March 10.
Andy Gruenebaum was in net for that game with Hesmer still recovering from an ankle injury he suffered in the preseason. During the bye week, Columbus played exhibition matches against Michigan State and West Virginia, with Hesmer appearing in both of those.
"After a game against one of the college teams and another full week of training, hopefully I'll be sharp enough and healthy enough to play," he said.
Along with the potential return of Hesmer, Crew fans will get their first look at midfielder Milovan Mirosevic, who was signed to a multi-year contract in January after scoring 46 goals over his final three seasons in his native Chile.
Columbus was 9-3-5 at home last season and went unbeaten over its first seven games (4-0-3), but its fourth-place finish in the Eastern Conference was its worst since a sixth-place showing in 2007.
"Hopefully, we can come out flying (at home)," defender Eddie Gaven said. "Hopefully, we can finally get some goals as well and get our first win of the year. That's what it's all about playing at home."
The game will mark the return of defender Josh Gardner, who started 21 games and scored two goals for Columbus last season.
"I'm excited for the game," Gardner said. "I haven't seen some of those guys in four or five months, so it will be good to catch up, but more importantly, put in a good performance and play hard against them."
Former University of Akron star Zarek Valentin, though, is currently with the U.S. U-23 squad as it tries to qualify for the Olympics. A pair of Impact teammates, Evan James - the top pick in the supplemental draft - and Carl Haworth, are with the Canadian team.
Updated March 23, 2012