Sitting in his post-match press conference, Columbus Crew SC head coach Caleb Porter said he wasn’t going to “overanalyze” his team’s scoreless draw against CF Montreal on Saturday afternoon at Drive Pink Stadium.
Three days removed from an emotional 2-2 draw against CF Monterrey in Concacaf Champions League, Porter said his team looked tired playing in the swampy South Florida conditions against Montreal. (The team plays its home matches in Fort Lauderdale due to international border restrictions.)
“We showed some good character today,” the coach said after the match. “We bent but didn’t break. Good teams, on a day where we’re clearly not sharp, not playing our game, not creating chances, you have to find a way to hang on and we certainly hung on.
“That’s not what we want to be doing. We’re a team that wants to have the ball, but we didn’t keep it. We didn’t switch play enough.”
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Although the Crew finished the match without a shot on target, the biggest takeaway was that the club managed to grind out a result in difficult circumstances.
Columbus battled through the elements, squad rotation and injuries to earn a second clean sheet in as many matches to start the 2021 MLS regular season.
Porter made five changes to his starting XI ahead of the game, including Isaiah Parente’s first career start in MLS and Vito Wormgoor’s first match since he broke his ankle last July in the MLS is Back Tournament.
Even with a heavily rotated group, goalkeeper Eloy Room produced another shutout and only needed to make three saves, despite Montreal taking 20 shots.
“I think it’s pretty incredible too that we can rotate with six guys out and rotate five guys in and we still find a way on the road with a short turnaround to get a point,” Porter said. “It’s one of those where, the balance of our team is why we’re good. In the first two (MLS) games, we’ve defended pretty well.
“We executed OK on (the defensive) side of things. I thought we executed extremely well against Monterrey in the attack (last Wednesday). We just have to make sure we get both lightbulbs going on and get that balance back. I think you saw a team where I felt like we would never give up a goal, but I also felt like we would never score a goal, either.”
Room had similar remarks after the game, saying he’s hoping more from the team offensively and hopes the side can produce better results on the road this season.
“Our job is to play on a clean sheet and today we did it, but there were some moments when we were a little bit sloppy giving the ball away,” the goalkeeper said. “So, I’m not pleased with the result. For me, it does not feel like a draw.
“We have to learn to win these games on the road. Today, we didn’t play our best game, but still we had some chances.”
The Black & Gold now have a quick turnaround from the draw as they prepare for the second leg against Monterrey in the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals. Tied 2-2 on aggregate entering the game, Columbus will be without attacking midfielder Lucas Zelarayan, who is suspended due yellow card accumulation.
Porter is hopeful that Gyasi Zardes and Jonathan Mensah will play in the match in Mexico. The coach said Zardes is day-to-day with a shoulder injury sustained in the first meeting last Wednesday at Historic Crew Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on FS2.