It was a season of highs mixed in with the lowest of the lows. The 2019 Columbus Crew SC season is surely one that fans will be quick to forget despite all of the positive energy moving forward.
Starting the season as the league’s hottest, the Black & Gold quickly saw a historic run that put them into the conversation as the worst collection of players in the team’s history. A bevy of injuries and changes (all for the better) with a mixture of unfortunate circumstances highlighted what really was a very bipolar season for the Crew.
But then Columbus turned things around. Bringing in players during the summer transfer window and getting others back from injury, the Black & Gold went unbeaten in six and suffered only two losses in the club’s last 13 matches of the year.
Optimism is surely on the horizon, not only on the pitch but off the pitch as well. With that being said, here are Massive Report’s biggest takeaways from this past season for the Black & Gold.
Caleb Porter is ready to lead the charge
Despite failing to achieve the main goal for the 2019 MLS Season, reaching the playoffs, there’s a lot for fans to get excited about with Caleb Porter as head coach. Despite a stretch where they team went winless in 15 out of 16 games and ultimately finishing with the fifth-lowest point total in club history, the Crew was among the league’s best as far as points in the last third of the season, while making an expected push for a playoff spot.
Passion is a quality that Black & Gold fans look for in a coach to mirror from them. It was on full display a couple of times this season from Porter, beginning on May 5 when Porter publicly criticized the referees for disallowing a clear goal by Pedro Santos after a questionable foul call at midfield by Wil Trapp. He did the same two months later against FC Dallas when referee Victor Rivas called no-penalty against goalkeeper Nick Rimando after arguably fouling J.J. Williams.
The greatest asset that Porter can be given from the front office is time and he’s on track to get it. The 2021 season and beyond will be the most important era in the club’s history and it’s going to be crucial to gear up for what the rest of the league -- which is only getting better -- will have to offer. Porter seems to get backed by the club that he’s backed time and time again this season.
Porter will have opportunity to bring in players that he desires and, with the departure of club legend Federico Higuain, the Black & Gold have a glaring need for a new star player.
More moves are on the horizon
Porter taking the helm at the start of 2019 meant the inheritance of a squad that largely wasn’t built by him and didn’t necessarily fit his style of play. While any coach would love the likes of Zack Steffen, Wil Trapp and Gyasi Zardes, players that simply don’t fit the mold of a certain playing style will get caught out, and they did. It left for one of the “busier” seasons in recent memory for the club in terms of transactions made in the summer transfer window.
With Higuain officially no longer with the team, there is a need for a playmaker that the Crew hasn’t needed to acquire in quite some time. A dependable, 90-minute player that can change the tempo in an instant and make that key play is something that Porter will have on the top of his wishlist.
While Pedro Santos showed flashes of those types of qualities filling in for Pipa’s former position at the No. 10 spot, he is 31 years old (turning 32 next April) and not getting younger. He can certainly be a player that both Porter and the Crew can rely for a quality veteran presence. However, the coach is looking for youth and potential to take charge. As of right now and moving forward, it’s all about the future.
A familiar word has a new meaning
Future is a word that all Crew fans alike simply rejoice hearing. Just over a year ago, there was much doubt over the future of the club. Fans would cringe to hear the word be spewed in any which way when the club was surrounded by question marks. Today, things are much different.
Now the club stands in a solid position both on and off the field. Fans were recently able to witness the groundbreaking of the new downtown stadium and the future of the Crew became much more of a reality.
The future now holds everything that fans have always dreamed of. The future for the Black & Gold is now and fortunately, brighter than ever.