Columbus Crew SC's unbeaten record at this (early) stage of the 2019 MLS season is going to face its toughest test yet this weekend.
Head coach Caleb Porter will be without four regular starters due to the international break this weekend, as Gyasi Zardes (USA), Wil Trapp (USA), Waylon Francis (Costa Rica) and Justin Meram (Iraq) will be with their national teams while the rest of their teammates face the Philadelphia Union on the road Saturday (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US; DAZN in Canada).
“We have a good group, not 1 to 11, but across the board, 1 to 20,” Porter said via the Crew's official website. “And we are always preparing every single day for those guys to step in. They know their role. They know how we play.”
Zardes, Trapp and Francis have played every MLS minute available in the Crew's first three matches, while Meram has started twice and entered from the bench once. Their minutes, and influence, won't be easy to replace, but it also represents an opportunity for other players.
“We knew all along, like you said, that we were going to have some guys leaving during this window,” Porter said. “So, I think there have been some guys that are really licking their chops, ready to step in, and get a game."