Saturday’s game-sealing assist was just the tip of the iceberg in regards to what Hector Jimenez provides for Columbus Crew SC, and it serves as a reminder on the role depth and team unity play for the Black & Gold going beyond the Starting XI.
An established winger turned all-around utility player, Jimenez – a nine-year MLS veteran – made an immediate impact in Crew SC’s 2-0 win over New England last Saturday, but for head coach Caleb Porter, it was about everything leading up to the game that put him in that position to help Crew SC snap the Revolution’s 12-game home opener unbeaten streak.
“I think the biggest thing about Hector is that he’s a team guy; he shows up every day, he’s a good pro, got the right attitude,” said Porter earlier this week following training.
“He’s the type of guy you want to put into games. I said to the group on Sunday after we played the academy team, one of the points I made was, ‘make sure if you’re not playing or if you’re not in the 18 that you continue to show me you’re a guy I want to put in’ and that’s Hector; that’s what he does, every single day. I put him in because I trust him and he didn’t pout because it was three minutes. He went in and got an assist and I’m going play him more because of that, it’s that simple.”
Porter continued to speak on Jimenez’s versatility and where it stands as an asset on Crew SC's roster.
“I think he is one of our most valuable players – honestly – because you can, you can play him anywhere, right-left back, right-left winger, and like I said he’s just a good pro,” Porter said. “He comes to train hard every day and he’s a positive guy, a smart player. He’s going to be a good coach someday.”
On that same topic, Porter emphasized that in the grand scheme, the Starting XI is a minority of the team, and that it’s just as important – and perhaps even more so – to have those players in the 18 and beyond who can come in and make an impact, regardless of the match or the current scoreline.
“Actually the 11 is a minority compared to the rest of the group that doesn’t play and you can’t lose sight of those guys that are on the bench and those guys that are in training every single day and that’s why I try to keep the spirit good across the entire team,” Porter said.
“[Hector] went in there and honestly, [if] he doesn’t find that goal who knows what happens. I just thought it was a good example of the type of team we are and the depth that we need. We need guys going into the game whether we’re up and they come in to kill the game off or whether we’re down and they go in and find goals.”
It’s easy to notice the plays in the boxes, whether it be a goal or a key save, according to Porter, but overall, no play goes unnoticed to him and the coaching staff, whether it be a defensive clearance or a positional shift in the midfield.
“I always say it, we have a bunch of guys that have different strengths and yet, every single play that is made in a soccer game is an important play and some of those plays – [Gyasi Zardes’] plays get noticed – are talked about and they get credited more than some of the ones that no one sees or notices but I notice all the plays,” Porter said.
“Obviously, Zack [Steffen] made a big play - massive play. Gyasi made two big plays but the midfielders – if you go back and watch the film – they make a lot of plays too. The center backs, a lot of crosses being served in and they make a lot of plays that no one sees. We have to have a collection of players that are making plays and there is no important plays to make than in the boxes.”
More of those plays will be on display on March 16 at MAPFRE Stadium, as the Crew (1-0-1, 4 pts.) host FC Dallas (1-0-1, 4 pts.) for a 2 p.m. ET kickoff.