Columbus Crew SC is set to host Real Esteli FC in the second leg of their 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 match, as the Black & Gold currently lead 4-0 on aggregate following last Thursday's win at Estadio Nacional in Managua, Nicaragua.
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In leg one, two first-half goals from Gyasi Zardes led the Crew, while Jonathan Mensah tallied the club's second goal of the match to go with a PK conversion from Pedro Santos in the final moments of the first half to seal the 4-0 scoreline after the opening 45 minutes. The scoreline would remain throughout and, in doing so, the final result marked the Club's largest-ever win in CCL in the modern rendition of the tournament.
Notably, Santos's 45th minute penalty conversion marked the first time a Portuguese player scored in Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League history.
Knowing the MLS Home Opener is set for Sunday, April 18 vs. Philadelphia, Head Coach Caleb Porter admitted that it's a tricky week, but commented on how the previous result puts them in a solid position as the coaching staff prepares for the two-match, four-day stretch.
WATCH | Caleb Porter ahead of Thursday-Sunday turnaround in CCL, MLS play
"So in looking at this week, we'll kind of kill two birds with one stone. We'll prep all week for both games," Porter said.
"We have a plan for Thursday in how we are going to approach that, and a big part of that plan is making sure that on Sunday, we have a fresh group to come in because that turnaround is very tight and we feel like we have a group and depth that can get us through this second leg and set up this Sunday where we are flying."
Should Crew SC advance, the Club will likely face Liga MX side Monterrey in the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals, which would mark the Crew's third consecutive appearance in the group of eight, following showings in 2009-10 and 2010-11.
Kickoff on Thursday is set for 8 p.m. ET at Historic Crew Stadium, with coverage set to take place on FS1 and TUDN.