Columbus Crew head coach Caleb Porter has warned against overlooking the team for a playoff run after a string of positive results helped them climb the MLS Eastern Conference table.
The reigning Major League Soccer Cup champions defeated 11th place Inter Miami 4-0 on Saturday night at Lower.com Field, inching three points closer to the top seven.
Crew have five regular-season games remaining to close the current gap as they sit only four points below the playoff line, and Porter insists the team should not be dismissed quite yet.
“When a group of 11 guys who pull their sleeves up and work and fight and are organised, play hard, play smart, play together - good things happen,” he said.
“That’s one of our strongest lineups we've had in a long time. I think that showed. When we get that game model going the way we want it to go, it's pretty hard to stop. I think you saw that with the four goals and clean sheet, the pressing, the possessing, the tempo. It was all clicking today.”
The attack included the underrated partnership of Gyasi Zardes and Pedro Santos, who found their rhythm early in the game. Zardes walked off with two goals, while Santos managed one goal and two assists.
“We showed that killer instinct," Porter added. "There have been a few games obviously we've been up, but we let the team hang around, and we went for the jugular today. I think that's a trademark of this team and this club. It's great to see that. It doesn't get any easier, but guys will be confident. We score four goals, we get a clean sheet, very comprehensive performance. And you saw this group's hunger to make the playoffs.”
Saturday’s game marked Porter’s 100th win as a Major League Soccer coach, which he credited to the Crew.
“I don't win any of those without good players and a good staff. It's that simple. I’ve been very fortunate to be in two excellent clubs with very good players. I'm proud of the fact that I've won a trophy in both of those clubs. But I do this for the players, it's all about them. I'm a good coach with good players and I'm a bad coach with bad players. It's that simple.”
With playoffs on the horizon, the Crew must take advantage of every single upcoming game. They visit second-place Nashville SC on Wednesday, a difficult challenge as their opponents maintain an undefeated record in their home stadium.
“We're going to not get ahead of ourselves, we're not going to play the next five games,” Porter said. "We’re going to play the next game and we know it's a very difficult game against Nashville. We'll control what we can control and that's winning the next game.”