Caleb Porter accepts the buck stops with him as the Columbus Crew attempt to get their campaign back on track when they host the Seattle Sounders on Saturday.
The Crew went down 1-0 to the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday to make it five defeats in a row, a run that has seen them slip out of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The pressure is growing on head coach Porter ahead of the visit of back-in-form Seattle, which leads the way in the West after winning back-to-back matches.
But while Crew could not have asked for a tougher next fixture – a repeat of last season’s MLS Cup final – Porter believes it will give his side a chance to show exactly what it is made of.
“Obviously we’re not getting results and the finger’s going to be pointed at me,” he said. Keep pointing it at me. I’ve got to correct it. I’ve got to sort it out. We’re now in a tough situation. We’ve dug a hole and have got to turn it around and play one of the best teams in the league.
“Our backs will be against the wall. We’re going to find out what we’re all made of, myself, the players, our culture, everything.”
The Sounders are now well over their recent wobble that saw them pick up one point from three games, having since thrashed Portland 6-2 and defeated FC Dallas 1-0.
The margin of their victory over rivals Portland grabbed plenty of attention, but the ability to grind out a slender win at Dallas was equally as impressive in many ways.
“That win reminded me of the determination, the sheer determination, to defend and play and win,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said. “It’s part of culture of the club and the winning mentality of the club. We have that spirit. We don’t go away from home hoping for a draw. That’s not the way we view things.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Columbus Crew – Kevin Molino
The only way the Crew are going to halt their losing run is by finding the net for the first time in three matches. Molino missed a good chance against the Red Bulls and has an underwhelming return of one goal from 10 games this season. Put simply, he and his teammates must take the opportunities that fall their way.
Seattle Sounders – Raul Ruidiaz
Not for the first time this season, the Sounders had Ruidiaz to thank for their most recent win, the Peruvian striker taking his tally for the season to 14 goals in 20 MLS appearances. He needed less than 30 seconds to break down the Dallas defence, with that goal taking him to within one of overtaking Clint Dempsey as Seattle’s outright second-highest scorer.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Seattle returns to Columbus for the first time since the 2020 MLS Cup final, which saw the Crew win 3-0. Columbus has won three of its last four home matches against Seattle (L1), scoring three goals in each win. The Crew have scored two total goals in the five matches in which they failed to beat Seattle (D1 L4).
– Columbus has lost five games in a row. The Crew are the first defending MLS champion to lose five straight matches since the Galaxy dropped seven in a row in May-June 2006.
– The Sounders have won six of their last eight away matches (D1 L1), including the last three in a row. This is Seattle’s second three-match away winning streak of the season, though it has not won four straight on the road since July-September 2018.
– The Crew have gone back-to-back matches without scoring for the fourth time this season after doing so only once all of last season. Columbus last went three straight matches without scoring in June-July 2019, breaking that streak against Seattle.
– Ruidiaz has scored a league-high 14 goals this season, setting a career regular season high in MLS. Only two players have scored 15 goals in a single regular season for Seattle: Obafemi Martins (17 in 2014, 15 in 2015) and Dempsey (15 in 2014).