Caleb Porter owns Columbus Crew missing playoffs: "I definitely made mistakes"

Caleb Porter ORK-CLB

How did the Columbus Crew miss out on the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs? The MLS Cup 2020 champions were haunted by the same “recurring nightmares,” according to head coach Caleb Porter following a 2-1 Decision Day defeat Sunday at Orlando City SC.

Just needing a draw to punch their postseason ticket, the Crew scored the opening goal in the first half through Derrick Etienne Jr. An inability to land the knockout blow again proved costly, with Junior Urso leveling in the 56th minute – a goal Porter said changed the course of the match – and Facundo Torres’ penalty kick six minutes from full time following Video Review proved to be the final death knell in a promising season that went off the rails.

It's a result that sent the Lions into the playoffs, while the Crew missed out on the final day for the second season in a row. Ultimately, the Crew’s 24 points dropped from a winning position proved to be the difference.

“Today was a microcosm of the season,” Porter said in his post-match press conference. “Obviously when you look at the first half, very good execution. We deserve to be up in the game. We're playing well. We're up 1-0, looks like we might score a second goal. This has been a story of many, many games this year."

Even after conceding from the spot, Columbus had quality chances to level late, but Orlando goalkeeper Pedro Gallese parried away a Lucas Zelarayan attempt deep into second-half stoppage time.

“It's just another game where you go how do we lose? Like, how do we lose? When you look at the play, and you look at everything, we really should not lose that game,” Porter said. “But that's happened too much this year. I think we're gonna have to do a deep dive on that and for sure, there's futures up in the air, probably myself included, who knows, I have no idea where it's at.”

The offseason, Porter said, starts now and there promises to be some hard discussions. Porter said he’s got one year left on his contract and has every intention on continuing the journey, after winning his second MLS Cup title in 2020 with the Crew after guiding the Portland Timbers to the championship in 2015.

“I have a year left on my contract and I'm not a quitter. I love this club. I love my guys. I gave everything I had this year. I can honestly say that. I’m at peace with how much I gave; it doesn't mean I was perfect,” Porter said. “I definitely made mistakes this year. And clearly when you fall short the coaches are responsible. It's not just me, we are a club, there were more mistakes than me. But at the end of the day, the buck stops with me.”

Columbus have made the playoffs just once since Porter took over in 2019, finishing this campaign in eighth place in the East. They closed the year by going 2W-2L-7D from mid-August through Decision Day.

"I’m a coach, I understand the job, understand the accountability, understand, obviously, that we haven't made the playoffs two years in a row," Porter said. "Obviously I can say last year we missed it on the last day and this year we missed on last day. But the bottom line is we didn't make the playoffs two years in a row. And that's not good enough in this club."