Generally speaking, it’s a good problem to have when your team is frustrated by earning draws at home against good opponents. It’s especially good if those draws have come against the Eastern Conference leaders and a side that took you to extra time during the conference semifinals last season.
And yet, the Columbus Crew want more from home matches at the same time opponents are being forced to accept less anytime they visit Lower.com Field.
Through the Crew’s first three matches in their new home, they’re registered five points. Add those to the home games at Historic Crew Stadium, and the Black & Gold are unbeaten in their last 16 home matches across all competitions.
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Since a 3-1 win over New York City FC on Oct. 18 last season, the Crew have tamed opponents in league play, the postseason and the Concacaf Champions League. That’s no laughing matter.
While the Crew are still nestling into their new home, supporters have made Columbus the hardest place for opponents to play.
Of those 16 unbeaten games, the home side have outscored opponents, 31-12, and have recorded seven clean sheets. That level of home-field advantage should offer a huge boost for the reigning MLS Cup champions over the remaining 20 regular season matches.
Nashville, who played five-straight home matches before visiting Lower.com Field, is the only other club in the Eastern Conference to remain unbeaten at home. There are three teams in the Western Conference – Seattle Sounders FC, Sporting KC and FC Dallas – who remain unbeaten at home.
“It’s good to leave a game where we don’t lose and where we’re disappointed,” Porter said after the Nashville draw. “We have to keep improving and for me, a draw at home is a disappointment – we need three points, I don’t care who we’re playing. We want to be at the top of the league, we want to win an MLS Cup.
“It’d be easier for us to say, ‘We dominated one of the best teams in the league that has only lost one game the entire year.’ They’ve been one of the toughest teams this year to beat, and I thought we had them, honestly. But I think again, if we play the 90 minutes the way we did in the second half, I think we find at least one or two goals, easily.
“I think we leave the game a little disappointed because we need to play well for 90 minutes but, yes, the perspective has to be this is a very good team, Nashville. We didn’t lose, we dominated the game, we had the better of it, thought we were going to win, but I want my team to play a complete game.”
Wednesday’s score line might not have been what the Crew hoped for, but it’s another data point that proves the club is trending in the right direction at an important time of the season.
Over the last nine matches, the Crew are tied with Nashville for second in the conference with 16 points. Again, the majority of Nashville’s points came at home.
As Crew players slowly trickle back from the Concacaf Gold Cup, Porter will have even more players available to help the Black & Gold accumulate points and climb the conference standings.
Here’s a look at Columbus’ next four matches:
July 24: at Atlanta United FC
July 30: at NYCFC
Two of those matches are against an Atlanta side that’s 10th in the Eastern Conference, has an interim manager and averages a point per game.
As for NYCFC and D.C. United, the Crew have taken nine points from those opponents in three matches. It’s certainly too soon to think about playoff seedings, but the time is right for the Black & Gold to accumulate points.