Columbus Crew SC looks to extend its unbeaten streak to five on Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium when the Black & Gold face a ninth-place Nashville SC squad coming off a 4-2 victory over Atlanta United.
Crew SC (7-1-3, 24 pts.) rallied from a two-goal deficit to draw Chicago Fire FC at Soldier Field Saturday to remain first in the Eastern Conference table, while ninth-place Nashville SC (3-4-3, 12 pts.) moved above the playoff line with the win over the Five Stripes.
Columbus Crew SC
Although Columbus conceded as many goals in four minutes against Chicago as they had all season, Fatai Alashe and Gyasi Zardes scored second-half goals to secure a share of the points. It was an uncharacteristic slow start, but outside of the first 20 minutes, Caleb Porter said his team learned a lesson.
"We’ll be better from that 20 minutes and these are lessons you need to learn along the way: you absolutely need to learn them," Porter said. "The other lesson we learned is we can come from behind and find a way, even on the road down two goals, to grind out a point."
Columbus is a perfect 4-0-0 this season at MAPFRE Stadium, where opponents have yet to score a goal, while Crew SC's 24 points in 11 games continues to mark the best start in Club history.
One of the reasons for that, Porter said, comes down to preparation level.
"I think we never want to take a week off. I think we build a mindset - a winning mindset - and we understand as a Club, as a team, as players and as coaches that to win the next game, you have to prepare very well."
In terms of the Crew's history against expansion sides in their first season, the Crew is 12-6-3 in regular-season matches since 2010.
Still, Nashville is above the playoff line currently and Porter again noted how the difference between teams' caliber in MLS is typically relatively minor.
"And so I know, personally, I try to never take a week off, or take day off or a game off and that's the mindset we try to instill in our players: that we know we have a good team, but everybody has a good team in MLS. There are no bad teams. Everybody's pretty close."
Dax McCarty had a goal and two assists, helping lead Nashville's first multi-goal game in their 10-match MLS history and also had some sage advice for Atlanta's Miles Robinson, who said in the leadup to the match that the Five Stripes had better players on their team.
"But I have to say: a little bit of unsolicited old man advice for Miles Robinson,” McCarty said. “I think he's got tremendous talent. I think the future for him is extremely bright. But when your team is going through a tough time … their team is not in a good place right now, and their team is struggling. So for me, if I can give Miles a little bit of advice I would say to him: Talent is only so valuable and it's only going to take you so far. Especially in this game. Especially in soccer because there's so much more to the game than talent.
“So when you're going through a tough time I would say that things like character, things like hard work, things like humility, they go a long way to help get your team out of a tough time. For us, we continue on our path. Regardless of how teams look at us, we're not going to let it affect us in our locker room.”
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports Ohio and the FOX Sports GO App.