Following last week’s disappointing draw at home, Columbus Crew SC coped with training schedule limitations and still came out with a shutout victory on Saturday in Foxboro, a testament to the team’s character as much as its preparation.
“It was a team effort across the board and that’s what we need,” said Crew SC head coach Caleb Porter. “We’re a team. We’re not a group that has individuals that are any better than each other, so for us, we always have to keep the concept of that team and it was a team performance today.”
Gyasi Zardes led the way with his first brace of the season and his fifth since joining the Club in 2018, while Columbus recorded its fifth shutout win against the Revs in their last seven meetings.
Though Zardes tallied each of Crew SC’s goals, each came about in very different fashions.
In the 26th minute, Pedro Santos took the ball into space along the left flank and delivered a pin-point curling ball to Zardes at the far post for a clinical header.
Seventy minutes later in the final seconds of second-half stoppage time, it took Crew SC five total touches from three players to sink the insurance tally.
A less than ideal week of weather leading up to the match made it all the more impressive to not only post a shutout but prove clinical on four shots on goal.
“It’s a tough league, you have to be able to grind through home and away games,” Porter said. “We had a tough week. It was cold. We couldn’t train at our home facility and we had to adjust and deal with it. This group has a really good attitude and they showed a really good attitude today.”
In terms of game management and tactical execution, Porter was happy with the group, noting an established rhythm and clinical finishing.
“I thought for us in our first road game, to come here, it’s a home opener…we knew [New England] would be flying,” said Porter, “but I thought the way we managed the game, the way we kept the ball, the way we finished our chances – we defended well. We managed the game excellently.
“I actually thought we had a lot of rhythm on the day…I thought 25 minutes in the first half and a good 20 to 25 minutes in the second half, we bossed the game and that’s exactly what we want to do.”
Whether it's a balance on the field of play or a balance in coaching style, things are trending upwards in Columbus, albeit in the very early stages of the season.
"I think Caleb [Porter] has done a very, very good job of taking a group that's been established and evolving it, and trying to implement small things that he believes will take us a little bit further," said midfielder Wil Trapp. "I think that's a wonderful thing as players, to be challenged. He’s a passionate guy, he’s a fiery guy. It’s a very, very inspiring type of leadership that I think is pushing this group along very well."
The Crew will look to continue its recent form at the friendly confines of MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday, March 16 against FC Dallas, with kickoff slated for 2 p.m. ET.