Following a 0-0 draw against Vissel Kobe in the first preseason match of the year, Columbus Crew SC Head Coach Caleb Porter spoke on what he saw in the team’s depth and defensive effort, and what he expects to see offensively and possession-wise as far as areas for improvement as the preseason continues.
“Well it’s a good test first of all,” Porter said. “Vissel Kobe is a good team, they have some world class players on their team, for us to be able to play that type of match five days into preseason, I thought was a good challenge for us.”
The result brought a number of preseason priorities to the forefront, including playing a deep bench against high-class competition, building physicality, and getting a chance to see players in a match environment for the first time.
“I thought we defended well against a good attacking team with guys like David Villa and Iniesta and Podolski, so I thought defensively we were good,” Porter said. “And we were able to see some guys, as well, and that’s always important. We’ve been in training, we haven’t always been in match situations, so to be able to see some guys and evaluate where we are is always a positive.
“So there’s really a lot still that we need to work on and improve in, the areas in the attack of course, but I’ve always found that that comes later [than] in the early games of preseason. It’s easier to destroy than create, so certainly, the attack will gel and blossom as we go on.”
With three players on U.S. Men’s National Team duty and three currently sitting due to injury, Monday’s match featured a full range of player, including the likes of recent SuperDraft selection JJ Williams, as well as prospects for the Crew SC Academy such as Sebastian Berhalter.
“Yeah, it was good to get Sebastian Berhalter a runout and our draft pick, JJ, who is a young boy, and Eddie [Opoku] and others,” Porter said. “It’s good, again, to see some of these guys. We have our national team guys out and then we have three guys that are injured that are pretty key depth pieces, so that means we run a little deeper on the bench and it’s great because we get to evaluate guys. I think overall it was a real positive.”
As far as room for improvement, Porter mentioned keeping up the physical aspect, as well as possession and attacking in the final third.
“Again, I think we’ll keep pushing the physical side so we’ll progress to play more minutes,” Porter said. “We’ll keep pushing the passing and possession. I thought there were times we could have controlled the ball a little bit more, but we were also playing a team that wanted to control the ball as well and they played in a system where they were able to overload us a little bit and keep the ball, so maybe that allowed them to control periods more than we would have liked. So we’ll work on obviously getting more of a grip on the game, if we can, in possession and we’ll work on that final third. We had a few moments where we got in good spots, but we missed a few chances that were close, but obviously, we need to create a bit more.”
The Crew return to action on Thursday, Jan. 31 at 1 p.m. ET against Club Tijuana in a closed-door scrimmage in Chula Vista, Calif.