Following the “Hell is Real” win against FC Cincinnati, Caleb Porter took a seat and told the media that the Columbus Crew are determined to win their final six regular-season home games.
That’s not a surprise, obviously, but Porter did speak with a sense of urgency.
It was not a tone that suggested time was running out, but rather a team lacking the patience to break its spell and secure a postseason place.
While the Black & Gold are the reigning MLS Cup champions, they’ve also left much to be desired in the last eight games, and had nine players unavailable against Orlando City SC in the 3-2 defeat on Saturday night.
The point is: nothing has come easy for the Crew in 2021, and fans shouldn’t expect that to change over the course of the final 11 games of the regular season.
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As things stand, Columbus sits eighth in the Eastern Conference standings, just three points behind the coveted seventh spot, where D.C. United resides with a two-win advantage. (If teams are tied on total points, the tiebreaker is total wins.)
The Crew’s 27 goals scored is one fewer than every playoff team, and the 32 allowed is tied for D.C. United for most conceded.
With two months remaining in the regular season, the Crew will hope to see that Goals For tally rise as key starters return into the lineup, while defenders are returning from lengthy injury spells.
Combine those stats with the fact that only six of the final 11 games are against teams in a playoff spot, and the Black & Gold find themselves in a very manageable position; Porter said as much on Saturday night in Orlando.
“I think we have time to make the playoffs,” he said. “Nothing changes because we didn’t get the result, and I am confident in the last 11 games that we can win six or seven, which should put us in.”
On paper, the two next games should deliver promising results.
Next up is a match at Inter Miami CF on Sept. 11, followed by the Crew hosting the New York Red Bulls on Sept. 14 at Lower.com Field. Although Miami just beat Cincinnati, 1-0, on Saturday night, they’re 12th in the conference, while the Red Bulls are 10th.
“We have to get guys healthy; we have to get guys fighting,” said center-back Josh Williams, who made his first appearance since June last weekend at Orlando. “Caleb brought up a good point: from here on out, we’re at a bottom. We’re looking up at a lot of these teams. I think everybody should be salivating right now on the roster.
“I’m licking my chops right now because I know if I put the work in and produce, I’m going to play. If there’s any bright spot going into next week, I think that’s it – guys better come hungry.”
Perhaps that’s the perspective everyone should have with the Crew. If they approach the next two months licking their chops – hungry for a postseason appearance – it will happen. And that’s why Porter sounded impatient. Not because he’s worried about making the postseason, but because he’s ready for the reigning MLS Cup champions to play like champions again.