Columbus SC head coach Caleb Porter said the whole team, from players to coaching staff, needs to improve following Wednesday night’s 2-0 road loss to Toronto FC.
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“Obviously, we were a little bit hamstrung – no pun intended – with subs,” Porter said. “Not a lot of options, so I thought we kind of fizzled out a little bit at the end of the game. There were some good periods, but I think by and large it needs to be better. We need to start the game better. The attack needs to be better. The defending needs to be better. I think coaching needs to be better.
“We could all look at ourselves and say ‘Yeah, it was pretty good in periods.’ We were close to scoring. We didn’t give up a ton, but those are all would’ve, should’ve, could’ve, and for me, it’s just not quite enough.”
The Crew only had 17 players in its active squad Wednesday evening due to injuries across the team. Clubs are permitted to have 20 players in a matchday squad.
Following the club’s last match in Florida – a scoreless draw against CF Montreal on May 1 – Porter said one of The Crew’s best qualities is the team’s deep roster that allows squad rotation. That was on display against Toronto, as Alexandru Matan and Saad Abdul-Salaam both made their first league starts for Columbus.
But now as the club no longer balances playing in two competitions, the goal is developing a rhythm that should start delivering points for the reigning MLS Cup champions.
“We need to find the 10 percent more in everything – the final third, box defending, set-piece defending,” Porter said. “Overall, our pressure was okay, and there are reasons. We got some new guys in, we got some young guys in. But again, those are excuses, and I’m not one to make excuses.
“For me, we have to find a way to win, no matter what. It doesn’t matter if we have a thin bench. It doesn’t matter if we have rotated guys in. It doesn’t matter the travel on game days. It doesn’t matter the heat. It doesn’t matter the short window. We’re never going to make those excuses. We need to find a way to score a couple goals, we need to find a way to not give up a couple goals and we need to find a way to get a result, and we didn’t.”
WATCH | Highlights from Crew vs. Toronto
Captain and center back Jonathan Mensah reiterated that the season is just starting and there’s ample time to refocus and continue building chemistry.
The loss to Toronto was only the third occasion in two seasons where Mensah has played alongside fellow center back Vito Wormgoor. The last time they played a full 90 minutes together was March 1, 2020 – last year’s season opener.
The duo might be the league’s best center back pairing come November, but it’s still in its infancy stages.
“It is good to play with him,” Mensah said of playing alongside Wormgoor, who missed the bulk of 2020 with an ankle injury. “It has been a long time that he has been out, so we (are) thankful that he’s healthy now. Of course, it’s going to take a couple of games for him to get the match fitness going, so we’re here to help him, pick him up and move on with the season. Of course, it wasn’t our day today, so we just keep going, keep working, and we keep improving.”
With Wednesday night marking their first loss of the 2021 regular season, The Crew can now shift their focus to Sunday night’s nationally-televised matchup at the New England Revolution. The Revs currently sit second in the Eastern Conference standings and are unbeaten in their first five games this season.
Kickoff on Sunday is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET from Gillette Stadium (ESPN2, 97.1 FM The Fan).