Ricardo Clark - 3.16.19 - FC Dallas

Crew confident in 'next man up' mentality vs. Philadelphia on Saturday

Despite missing key players due to international duty, the Columbus Crew SC coaching staff cited the roster’s depth, experience, and hunger as to why they are confident heading into their second road test of the season on Saturday at Philadelphia.

“We have a good group, not 1 to 11, but across the board, 1 to 20,” said head coach Caleb Porter. “And we are always preparing every single day for those guys to step in. They know their role. They know how we play.”

Unbeaten in 2019 – including preseason – the Black & Gold are tied atop the Eastern Conference standings with seven points. Consistency in the lineup has been prevalent, with 14 players earning appearances and 12 players earning at least one start.

However, dating back to the first preseason match against Vissel Kobe in late January, Porter and staff have seen the club’s ability to play in a unified way, regardless of personnel.

“They’ve done it all preseason,” Porter said. “They got games during the preseason and we were able to execute the way we play exactly like the other guys that were playing, so it’s no different for me. They are going to step in, next man up. We’ll go in there and try to play the way we play.”

Of course, it’s not an unfamiliar experience to see members of the Black & Gold leave Central Ohio during the international breaks, as Waylon Francis (Costa Rica), Justin Meram (Iraq), Wil Trapp (USA), and Gyasi Zardes (USA) look to don their respective national colors throughout the upcoming days.

For the Club, Saturday’s match against the Union (0-2-1, 1 pt.) will be the first opportunity for a Crew side that, despite a varied look, will bring similar expectations.

“We knew all along, like you said, that we were going to have some guys leaving during this window,” Porter said. “So, I think there have been some guys that are really licking their chops, ready to step in, and get a game.

“The good news with our veterans and some of our experienced players that haven’t been playing is that they get it,” Porter continued. “They know that there is always going to be opportunities throughout a season…They prepare themselves the right way, knowing that they are going to get a game and that they’ll get an opportunity. I think with the group we are going to rotate in, this is a group of guys that are very professional and team guys. No doubt they are going to step in and want to get the job done for the club.”

As the Crew head to Philadelphia on Saturday, March 23, the Club will be seeking its first consecutive road win since the 2015 season. Kickoff at Talen Energy Stadium is slated for 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).

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