Head Coach Caleb Porter discussed the importance of the Crew's first three group stage games in the MLS is Back Tournament and how the team is approaching them.
“Our priority is to win MLS Cup. That’s the No. 1 goal that we have,” Porter said. “I look at it as the first three games are the most important and then the next four games (in the knockout stage), it’s an Open Cup, essentially,” Porter discussed in The Columbus Dispatch.
The Crew kick off the tournament from Orlando, Fla. on Saturday, July 11 at 10:30 p.m. ET vs. FC Cincinnati, followed by matches against the New York Red Bulls (July 16) and Atlanta United (July 21).
Each of the first three matches counts towards the regular-season standings. Should the Crew advance out of Groupe E into the Round of 16, then the Black & Gold will be vying for a spot in the Concacaf Champions League, as well as for prize money.
“We’ll try to win every game so that we get a Champions League berth, but also what we don’t want to do is try to win every game to get the Champions League and then sacrifice the regular season,” Porter explained. “That’s the exact same way that we approach the Open Cup. I think it’s important for people to understand it’s unique.”
For more information on the tournament format, as well as broadcast information, visit the MLS is Back Tournament hub.