Following the first match of the season, Miguel Berry said Artur’s return to the lineup marks the return of the Columbus Crew. Three weeks later, Pedro Santos said this year’s team has more chemistry and a better mentality than a year ago.

Regardless of the reasoning for this – whether it’s Artur back in the XI or the overall urgency to earn points early in the season – the Crew are unbeaten through four games thanks to strong attacking play, a stout defense and a never-say-quit attitude.

The latter was on display Sunday afternoon when the Black & Gold rallied from conceding in the 86th minute to find the equalizer in the 95th. With one swift counter attack, the club sealed a point inside Red Bull Arena – one of the harder places to play – to remain second in the Eastern Conference standings.

What’s most noticeable from the Crew so far in 2022 is the team-first identity that’s transpired through the first month of the season.

In all four games, head coach Caleb Porter has deployed the same starting lineup – something that hasn’t happened since 2015. Perhaps that changes given the severity of Lucas Zelarayán’s right knee injury (or just a general squad rotation), but it shows the club has a consistency that is lacked at times last year.

Six players have scored at least a goal in 2022, and the 10 scored overall leads the Eastern Conference. As for play defensively, Columbus has only conceded from set pieces. Porter said that’s a problem in itself – the team needs to stop conceding from dead-ball moments – but that the backline isn’t breaking down through the run of play is admirable.

It also shouldn’t go unnoticed that despite Porter using the same starters, the guys coming off the bench have made instant impacts, too. Gyasi Zardes nearly found the next minutes into his appearance against the New York Red Bulls, and contributions from Alexandru Matan and Luis Díaz on the last-minute counter attack Sunday afternoon led to the equalizing goal.

In the Crew’s last three matches, they conceded first but rallied to remain unbeaten. As Santos mentioned, that certainly reiterates the team’s mentality. But so does the consistency from individuals throughout the team and the energy that’s injected from substitutions during each second half.

At this point last season, the Crew had already altered its backline several times from a saturated schedule with Concacaf Champions League matches. Through four games this season, Porter has kept the same backline, and the players have each logged a full 90 minutes.

That’s a stat that shouldn’t be underestimated, and neither should this all-or-nothing 100-yard sprint from right back Steven Moreira to essentially provide Darlington Nagbe with his assist.

If Artur marks the return of the Columbus Crew, then the opening matches of the league campaign also mark the return of the club’s mentality in 2020. We all know how that season ended. We’ll see how this one continues, too.

Interested in 2022 Season Tickets?
Interested in 2022 Season Tickets?