The next time you see Pedro Santos on the pitch, look at his impact away from the ball as much as his playmaking on the ball.
Santos, who ranks second in Major League Soccer in duels won (29), was described by head coach Caleb Porter as one of the team’s best defenders and noted the midfielder’s ability to be an impact player despite what the stat sheet says.
“We are seeing production out of Pedro, but he’s more than that as a player,” Porter said following training on Tuesday. “People need to start looking for him in his playmaking ability, his ability to pop in and out of our shape and create problems for our opponents to solve and his positioning, his ability to help upkeep the ball, his ability to be clever and unpredictable in his movement.”
Santos delivered the game-winning assist in Columbus’ 1-0 win over FC Dallas last Saturday, marking his second helper in three games as he ranks tied for second league-wide in the category.
But more than that, while Santos creates a danger for opposing defenses, he’s an important cog in the Crew’s unified defensive effort that Porter expects to see from back to front.
“The other thing is the defending,” Porter emphasized. “I mean, he is one of our best defenders in all honesty, how we press. He tracks the opponent's outside back and creates those two lines of four [...] He is both sides of the ball. Covers a lot of ground. Those are the things that I see in addition to the goals and assists.”
And, yes, while Santos is expected to be a “playmaker”, Porter said, but it’s important to recognize the broad nature of the term, and exactly what plays those are.
“He’s a playmaker; that doesn’t mean he is always going to get goals and assists,” Porter said. “Although he is bringing that – I think he will continue to bring goals and assists – but when he doesn’t, he is still an impactful player for us in the role that he plays. And so, I am really pleased with what they are bringing. Of course, we want him to score goals, but he does a lot more than that. I think that it’s important that people realize that.”
The Black & Gold (2-0-1, 7 pts.) head to Philadelphia on Saturday, March 23 to take on the Union at 7:30 p.m. ET. Supporters can watch the match on FOX Sports Ohio, stream on FOX Sports GO, or listen on 97.1 FM The Fan or www.ColumbusCrewSC.com (English & Spanish).