Ahead of this weekend’s home match against New York City FC, head coach Caleb Porter is eyeing a more complete performance from his side amidst continued – and compounding – injury setbacks that have left Columbus Crew SC without much opportunity for cohesion over the first half of the season.
Looking back to two weeks ago, the Crew’s 1-0 loss to Minnesota displayed a strong defensive effort and dangerous moments in the attacking half. Fast-forward to last weekend and supporters witnessed a match that saw a Crew team with a revived offensive presence but still with lapses on set-piece defending and transitional defense.
Overall, Porter said the Club defended well, but the main issues to address ahead of Saturday remain on the defensive side.
“We have talked a lot in recent weeks about the attack and how we can create more goals and score more goals. We have worked on that a lot and I think you saw a lot of good things in regard to our chance creation and we scored two goals,” Porter said. “I did not think our defending was poor. It was just defending set pieces. That’s the main thing we have to address and defending in transition.”
Colorado’s first goal came on a defensive mismatch in the box while their second came from a preventable giveaway in the midfield en route to a goal in transition – all fixable things with this squad, as Porter has stressed over the past couple weeks.
As the Crew eye a complete performance against a streaking (and healthy) team in NYCFC, Columbus will have to again prepare on a week-by-week basis as injuries continue to throw a variable into the equation.
“It has been difficult because we haven’t been able to put together the group in a way that we put it together at the start of the year completely,” Porter said. “We have been manufacturing game plans based on the personnel we have available. We are still looking to improve in the way we want to evolve to, but then it also seems like every other week we seem to lose another guy, that now compounds next week and changes somewhat how we craft the plan.”
Regardless, Saturday’s match is an opportunity for a six-point swing as New York City stands three points ahead of Crew SC. Given the inconsistency, Porter has commended the guys’ ability to adapt on the fly.
“I think we have been doing a good job coming up with ways to be in these games,” Porter said. “There are positives in the last two matches. We were right there to win both matches.”
A win against NYCFC – who are 3-3-3 all-time in the regular season against the Crew – could push Columbus back above the red line as the summer international window gives clubs time to press pause and, in some cases, provide a much-needed rest for ailing rosters.
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