SEATTLE – All preseason long, Columbus Crew SC were touted as a potential darkhorse darling in the Eastern Conference.
Through two games, they’re looking the part.
After a season-opening win over NYCFC, Columbus battled the Seattle Sounders to a tightly contested 1-1 draw at CenturyLink Field on Saturday, taking a point in one of the league’s most hostile venues and looking every bit a worth adversary against the defending MLS Cup champs.
And even more to the point, Crew manager Caleb Porter even left Saturday's match dissatisfied with merely a share of the spoils after a wild sequence that saw Seattle draw level after a retaken penalty kick by Raul Ruidiaz.
“Normally I would feel good about a draw on the road against last year’s MLS Cup champion on their home pitch,” Porter said. “But I think our standards have raised. And so I think in some ways we’re grounded from the draw. And that’s a good thing because our standards have raised.”
Goalkeeper Eloy Room agreed with that sentiment and said his team very much could have won with some better finishing.
Columbus were under pressure for much of the second half, but did well to absorb it, only conceding on Ruidiaz’s retake when Room was whistled for coming off his line too early.
“I feel the same way [as Porter],” Room said. “Maybe last season we’re happy with this point and of course the point is a point in a difficult road game. But I felt there was more in the game, especially with how we conceded a goal like that. We had some chances also to score. They also had some chances but I think if we played in some situations a little bit better we could’ve scored more. So we have to learn from this, but we’ll take this point home.”
Given that pressure, "in the end, it was probably a fair result,” Porter said. Even so, he clearly felt the evening should be a confidence boost for his squad.
"We can play with anybody in the league when we play our game," Porter said.
“It’s weird that I’m feeling this way,” he continued. “I think, again, the expectations, the standards have been raised. So I’m glad I’m feeling this way, I’m glad the locker room isn’t happy getting a point on the road against the MLS Cup champions because that means that we expect a lot. So that’s a really positive thing.”