COLUMBUS, Ohio – For Columbus Crew SC, Wednesday’s much-needed 3-1 win over the LA Galaxy served as a cathartic night after a combination of unlucky moments, poor finishing and admitted officiating errors helped them skid to a five-game losing streak.
In an intense and upbeat press conference, head coach Caleb Porter seemed to be feeling vindicated both for his “us against the world” mentality and his team’s performance, especially given the Professional Referee Organization’s official statement that a major turning point in their last loss came on an “officiating error.”
“I think our team and our players showed a lot of resiliency in these last three, four weeks,” Porter said. “It’s not easy to go through the run we went through where you just say ‘How do you not win?’ ‘How do you not get that bounce, that call?’ I heard the [PRO] statement came out and those are things that unravel teams.
“There is one of two things that happen in this situation: you either get broken [and] the wheels fall off or you become unbreakable, and our group chose the latter. And I don’t think probably even they realize how much stronger we are now from going through that.”
Gyasi Zardes, who scored the opener against his former team to break a six-game goalless streak, said he sees the value in the adversity as well.
“It’s always nice to score goals, and through those difficult moments your true character comes out,” he said. “I stayed faithful to training extremely hard and my teammates had a lot of faith in me, and I respect my teammates for having a lot of faith in me, through the good times and the bad. It’s very motivating to know that and I’m just going to keep working hard to keep being a better player.”
Praise for his team’s resilience and mental focus was the theme of the night for Porter.
And while lower-spending teams in the midst of slumps have already seen head coaching changes this season, such as the Colorado Rapids, FC Cincinnati and now the New England Revolution, Porter said he would never be a coach who questions the talent he has at his disposal.
“With this group, you’ll never hear me talk about not having talent, you’ll never hear me disrespect my guys,” he said. “But in saying [that], I know the team I have — we’re not going to have more talent than LA and [LAFC, who visit MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday] and so how do we win? We have to win with the team.
“We have to win with the team and I said it to the guys before the game, a team that’s together, 11 guys in soccer, can beat individuals and I thought that showed today and I’m very proud of the group and I like being in the underdogs. I’m an underdog guy as well.”
Porter also added a message for fans who may have been questioning his methods during the five-game losing streak.
“Even though probably a lot of supporters were wondering, ‘is this the guy?’ I mean, I can tell you I’m the guy,” he said. “I’ll figure it out and I will get the bus to where it needs to go, but you have to give me a little time to transition and learn, and I’m not going to be perfect either.
“But if you want a coach that is going to roll his sleeves up and work and fight for the club and the city and understand the team that I have and how we need to play to knock off L.A., you got the right guy and you’ll see that more and more with the moves we make and how we evolve.”