Next up, Columbus Crew SC hits the road to take on the New England Revolution in a match that is all about capitalizing on a three-point opportunity following last Saturday's 1-1 home draw to the New York Red Bulls.
Not satisfied with the final result in the season opener, Head Coach Caleb Porter wants to see consistency from start to finish against the Revs (0-0-1, 1 pt.), even if the game's rhythm is not quite established early on.
"Biggest thing is not conceding early," Porter said. "Even if the rhythm isn’t there...before we get a foot in the game and get that grip on the game, we need to make sure we don’t concede early because the game changes."
In the two sides' most recent matchup on May 19, 2018, Columbus (0-0-1, 1 pt.) came out of Gillette Stadium with a 1-0 win thanks to an 85th-minute header from defender Lalas Abubakar.
Under former Columbus Crew legend and current Revs head coach Brad Friedel, New England has yet to defeat the Crew, going 0-1-1, including a 2-2 draw at MAPFRE Stadium on April 21, 2018.
Overall, Porter said he was happy with the adjustments last week, but that a primary focus come Saturday is rotation.
"I think the biggest thing was moving the ball a little quick, rotating it side-to-side a little bit more, and you saw in the second half we were able to get more space on the switch; that was key," Porter said. "Obviously being able to rotate the ball quicker, and then once we find space on the switch create something through the lines, whether that’s wingers progressing forward in the channels or whether that’s finding Pipa in the hole."
Midfieler Wil Trapp emphasized the same aspects earlier this week in training.
"I think a lot of it just comes down to seeing where your teammates are, moving into space, and that’s something Caleb is really trying to reinforce at the moment," Trapp said. "A big part of the movement is now opening up spaces for passes between the lines so you can cut out defenders time and time again and that’s a big part of our game model."
Undoubtedly Columbus progressed throughout last week's match, with key scoring chances materializing more and more as the game continued. Meanwhile, New England, who drew FC Dallas 1-1 last week, brought a physical strategy to the forefront with 24 fouls while maintaining possession just over 30 percent of the match.
Willing to press but vulnerable on the counter-attack, FC Dallas took advantage of that last week with an opening goal in the 13th minute. In just two passes, Dallas bypassed eight Revs defenders, with one of the balls being a one-touch flick to Michael Barrios, who went 35 yards for the solo equalizer.
The Revs managed to level in the 57th minute following a lofting cross from Jalil Anibaba to the back post for Antonio Mlinar Delamea, who capitalized on some Dallas miscommunication and laid it off for an open Carles Gil inside the 18-yard box.
For Crew SC, Saturday comes down to security in the back half and patience en route to numerical advantages in the front-half build-up, according to Trapp.
"So for us, it’s being as secure as possible in the back half of the field, getting the ball into the front half, and making them have to defend, have to use their organization and have to communicate because if we can do that, we can pull them apart and create chances."
Last season, the Revs posted an 8-4-5 home record and will look to extend their home opener unbeaten streak to 13 come Saturday.
Kickoff at Gillette Stadium is slated for 2 p.m. ET on SportsTime Ohio and 97.1 FM The Fan (Broadcast Schedule | Radio Schedule). Fans can also tune in on the FOX Sports GO App, or live stream the audio from ColumbusCrewSC.com.