With four Crew SC Academy players on the preseason roster, Porter’s first two weeks in trainign have, among other things, been a practice in analyzing dynamics that go beyond the First Team's technical ability.
“There is a lot of spirit in this team and really good chemistry, and it’s great for the young players, the Academy guys, to be around a professional environment, all day, every day,” Porter said. “Obviously they get a taste of it sometimes in training, but they are getting a taste of a real preseason training camp, and they’re being around top professional players, and that’s such an invaluable experience for them.”
Crew SC Academy players Sebastian Berhalter, JT Harms, Logan Kowalczyk, and David Wrona are all training with the First Team in California as a way to gauge their skill level, among other benefits.
“It’s great to see, too, where they are at, what their levels are, what they need to improve in,” Porter said. “It’s really hard to go and watch an Academy game and say, ‘Okay, this guy is good or not good.’ You really have to throw him in with professionals and real training and game situations to really know what they need to improve in, because for most of these guys, it’s easy for them at the Academy level with their own age group.”
On the other side of the spectrum, it has created a leadership opportunity for older players, according to Porter.
“I think it’s good for the senior players, too, because it’s good to have young guys around, good to play a leadership role, and what I always tell them, when they were young and they came into a team, they had seen the players that helped them, so now the tables have turned. I think that creates a healthy dynamic in our group, but it’s been great to have them around.”
Beyond the technical and tactical aspects, Porter spoke on the group chemistry and what he’s looking for in each player.
“With the way we set up the preseason, being in Chula Vista, basically we are around each other all day, every day,” Porter said. “It’s very concentrated. All the meals are together. The in-between time is together…so there’s a lot more interaction. And we are doing a number of team building activities as well. In between that, I’m also – because I lead people for a living, I’m a leader and a big psychology guy – I’m analyzing not only their performances, but I’m analyzing who they are as people. I’m figuring out the group dynamics and ways that I can unlock the potential of the group chemistry, the spirit, the leadership, all those things are very important in the locker room and in a winning team.”
As for the Crew’s next opportunity to bond on the pitch, that will take place on Monday, Feb. 4 at 5 p.m. ET against LAFC in a closed-door scrimmage at Banc of California Stadium.