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Caleb Porter: Columbus Crew looking for "leg up" during COVID-19 break

Just like other sectors of life and business, Caleb Porter is spending much of his day completing conference calls.

In one with reporters, Columbus Crew SC’s head coach outlined how he starts with a club-wide call at 9 am, then jumps into a coach-specific one at 11 AM and another with the team’s leadership council at 1 pm. There’s also one at 2 pm with technical director Pat Onstad and president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko, while he’s routinely in touch with Clive Brewer, their director of high performance.

MLS games being suspended through May 10 and an extended training moratorium through April 3 have forced Porter to adjust.

“We're working hard as a coaching staff and technical staff to figure out ways to keep the players dialed in and engaged,” Porter outlined. “Even, can we gain somewhat of a leg up on other clubs by looking at some different projects during this time?”

While games and practices are on pause for all MLS teams, that hasn’t stopped Porter and his staff from searching for a competitive advantage. They’re ramping up their scouting pipeline, and focusing on keeping players ready for when play does resume.

Players can’t train collectively or individually at their team facilities, so they’re doing home bodyweight workouts and going for runs outside. They’re also cognizant of how some players are in apartments with limited space, and have even considering doing cooking classes to aid the nutrition side.

“Everyone is in this situation in the league,” Porter began, “and I'm very confident that when we pick back up with team training or individual training at the facility or small-group training – we'll see what that looks like – that we'll be in as good a position or better than anybody in the league with what we're doing from a sports science and performance standpoint.”

Also fueling Porter’s confidence is where the 2020 season left off for their new-look side, after they beat New York City FC at home in Week 1 and drew the Seattle Sounders away in Week 2. The notable midfield additions of Darlington Nagbe and Lucas Zelarayan will still be there, and there’s quality throughout the roster.

“When we pick back up, we're still going to have a good team and we're still going to be in a good position,” Porter said. “I'm very confident with the group that we have if we can stay healthy – I know that we'll stay fit – that we'll hit the ground running as a club.”

When play does return, Porter expects a runway of sorts to help teams get caught up to speed. As he phrased it, there’s a massive difference between players completing home workouts and staying 90 minutes match fit. 

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