“Best case scenario for us was getting Waylon Francis,” said Porter, who spoke on welcoming back the former Crew left-back in the aftermath of losing defender Milton Valenzuela for the rest of the season due to injury.
“For me, it was such an ideal fit. He’s been in this club, he’s been in the League, he fits the profile of what we want, and I remember him in 2015 as being one of the best left-backs in the League, so the opportunity to get him is really a good one,” Porter said.
For Francis, who spent the 2018 season with the Seattle Sounders, it’s a new challenge, albeit in a familiar environment.
“I feel very excited about it,” Francis said. “It’s a new opportunity, a new challenge for me, so I’m glad to be back, to be honest. The only difference is that I’ve been in Seattle for a year, but no, I feel glad and feel happy that I’m back with my teammates, my friends, my family. So for me, it’s a blessing.”
Regarding Waylon’s skillset, athleticism and ball delivery are key, along with the ability to go box-to-box.
“They are a little different, but no, we want our outside backs to get forward and join the attack and provide width - [Waylon] can do that, and we want our outside backs to be able to defend as well,” Porter said on the comparison between the two left-backs.
“So I think they are a little different in terms of how they play, profile-wise, but mostly I would say in terms of how they are, technically, I would say Waylon is very athletic, he can go box-to-box like Milton…Waylon is a little bit more of a crosser, a play-and-move type of guy, a little bit more off-the-ball type of guy, but same type of player in terms of getting forward and getting back and playing a box-to-box kind of outside back. So as much as we’ll miss Milton, the transition will hopefully be seamless with a player like Waylon.”
Dating back to 2015, when Francis was named to Major League Soccer’s Best XI, Porter admired Francis' game, and later on, light-heartedly recalled that he wanted him in Portland after hearing of his signing with Seattle.
“I was surprised from afar when he went to Seattle, you know I remember thinking when I was at Portland, I went to my GM and was like ‘man, why didn’t we get him?’ cause I remember in  and I remember how good he was and I remember ranking him kind of amongst the best left-backs in the League,” Porter said.
To Porter, the ease of the transition process played a role in the Club’s decision to bring Francis back.
“So when he left to Seattle, I thought man, ‘What happened?’ and when Pat and Tim presented the opportunity to get him back, I was like ‘Really? That’d be amazing,’ because I don’t just think about the quality of player, I think about the transition…You want it to be seamless. We are only three weeks away from the season. So you factor all that in and he’s a proven guy in the League and he’s a proven guy in Columbus and he’s a proven guy in this system, it was a no-brainer.”
Up next for the Crew, it’s a three-match slate in Charleston, S.C. as part of the Carolina Challenge Cup. With matches scheduled Feb. 16, Feb. 20, and Feb. 23, supporters will have an opportunity to watch the Black & Gold in-person or stream the matches online through the Charleston Battery's website.
From there, the Crew will return home for the season opener against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, March 2 at 4:30 p.m. ET at MAPFRE Stadium.