Caleb Porter insists he remains the right man for Columbus Crew, despite entering Friday’s clash with rivals FC Cincinnati on a six-game losing streak.
The Crew’s terrible run of form continued with a 2-1 loss at home to Seattle Sounders last weekend when letting a late one-goal lead slip.
Porter’s side won the MLS Cup last year but are down in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 21 games of the 2021 campaign played.
With only a three-point margin to make up on seventh-placed D.C. United, however, Porter is adamant that he can turn things around at Lower.com Field.
“This is my job and I’ve done this a long time,” he said. ” There’s nobody who works harder, and there’s nobody that cares more. I’m the right guy for the job here.
“I proved that last year. I didn’t become a bad coach this year. We’re going through what a lot of championship teams go through. That’s not unique.
“What’s going to be unique is we’re going to pull out of it. And we’re going to make the playoffs.”
A home clash with Ohio rivals and fellow out-of-form side Cincinnati in the “Hell is Real Derby” could provide the perfect chance for Porter’s men to kickstart their season.
The Orange and Blue are winless in 10, most recently losing 4-1 to New England Revolution, and head coach Jaap Stam knows exactly what is on the line against the Crew.
“It’s going to be an intense meeting,” Stam said. “It’s always been like this, but the importance of the game itself is very important in terms of what both teams want to achieve.
“The derby is becoming bigger and bigger, so there is a little bit more tension to this particular game as well. In these games it’s not only about the result.
“It’s also about the pride and honor. That’s how it is supposed to be. I think it needs to be a game that is being played with a lot of passion and hopefully quality as well.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Columbus Crew – Pedro Santos
The Crew announced on Thursday that midfielder Kevin Molino will miss up to a year of action after seriously injuring his knee in training this week. Porter needs his other attacking players to step up, with Santos one of those capable of providing a little more after going three games without a goal or assist.
FC Cincinnati – Nick Hagglund
Ohio native Hagglund needs no telling just what this fixture means to both sets of fans and, should he feature, the defender will make a landmark appearance for Cincinnati. He made his 49th appearance for the Orange and Blue against New England last time out and could become the first player in club history to make 50 MLS appearances.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– There have been at least three goals scored in six of the seven Hell is Real derbies, including the last three in a row. The Crew have scored at least three goals themselves three times.
– Columbus have lost three straight home matches, conceding nine goals. The nine goals allowed is tied for the most Columbus have ever conceded in a three-match regular season span at home.
– Cincinnati are on a club-record 10-match winless run, though seven of the matches have been draws. This is the fourth time in MLS history that a team has recorded seven draws in a 10-match winless span after Houston earlier this season and Fire, who did it twice in 2011.
– Columbus have scored an MLS-low 12 open-play goals this season as a league-high 45.4 per cent (10/22) of their goals have come on set-plays (including two penalties). Cincinnati’s 13 open-play goals are tied for second fewest in MLS with Vancouver.
– Brenner has been involved in six of Cincinnati’s last seven goals (four goals, two assists) while Luciano Acosta has been involved in the last three (one goal, two assists).