Columbus Crew boss Caleb Porter has warned his side have little time to feel sorry for themselves after their latest defeat to Inter Miami on Saturday.
The reigning MLS Cup champions have suffered a torrid 2021 campaign so far, languishing down in 10th place in the Eastern Conference with just 27 points from 24 games.
Their latest defeat - 1-0 to Inter Miami on Saturday - means they've taken just three points from their last nine games, losing eight of them in a miserable run of form.
But Columbus remain just four points adrift of the playoff spots. A quick turnaround sees them host the New York Red Bulls on Tuesday night and Porter has urged his players to take the positives from Saturday night's performance and keep their heads up ahead of another crucial tie.
“There’s a lot of things we can hang our heads on and feel sorry for ourselves about, but I think this is one that our guys need to take the positives of playing a very, very good team – a very talented team – on the road and having the better of it," Porter told reporters following Saturday's loss (via the Columbus Crew website).
“We don’t have time to be frustrated or have any negativity. We have two days to get ready for a home game against New York (Red Bulls). The results went our way a little bit, and if we win this New York game, we’re right there.”
Midfielder Darlington Nagbe believes a combination of Columbus taking their foot off the gas after winning MLS Cup and the opposition upping their game against the reigning champions is behind their struggles this season. But the 31-year-old has backed his teammates to find the solutions they need to make the playoffs.
“When you’re the champions the previous season, maybe you relax a little bit,” Nagbe said. “I think the other team realizes that you’re champions, and they give a little bit more. I think we just need to realize that we were champions last year, but this is a new season.
"Can we find that? Yes. I believe we have the players, I believe in myself, I believe in my teammates and the coaching staff, so 10 games to go, I know we can do it.”
After their clash with the Red Bulls, Columbus face a challenging trip to Supporters' Shield leaders New England Revolution, who are 10 points clear of any other side in MLS right now.