When Caleb Porter took over Columbus Crew SC at the start of the 2019 Major League Soccer season, it seemed it would be a smooth transition from his predecessor Gregg Berhalter. After some early success with the same lineup and a very similar playing style, however, the team’s performance dropped and the head coach needed to make some changes in an attempt to right the ship.
The most noticeable of them, perhaps, involved Artur, a centerpiece of Berhalter’s system. After starting 12 of the team’s 13 first matches in the season, the Brazilian midfielder was subbed off at halftime during the 3-0 loss to Los Angeles Football Club at the start of May and never returned to the team’s starting lineup, playing a meaningless seven minutes in the team’s last three matches.
“Every player wants to be on the field and that’s obviously not a comfortable spot for me. But as a professional, I try to take both the good and the bad situations as learning experiences,” Artur told Massive Report. “That’s how we learn and get more experienced. I’m trying to step back, understand any mistakes I might have made or even the moments that led me to this situation and find a way out and learn my lesson.”
The 23-year-old midfielder is in his third season with the club and combined for 51 starts in 2017 and 2018. He quickly became an important player for the Black & Gold, which made the Crew reportedly spend $ 1.5 million to make his transfer permanent after one-year on loan at the end of the 2017 season.
His move to the bench was heavily influenced by the arrival of Costa Rican David Guzman, who worked under Porter with the Portland Timbers and was signed with the coach’s approval just five days before Artur’s last match as a starter.
“I felt I had a good preseason, but I didn’t start the regular season as well as I did in my previous two seasons here,” the Brazilian reflected. “But that was somewhat expected, not only for me but for the entire team, as we had a new coach coming in and a new playing style to learn. Maybe the fact that Guzman had played with him (Porter) in Portland made him have a better understanding of what Porter wanted, but that’s not to take anything from his quality. He’s a very good player and is more than capable of helping the team.”
Artur might not be pleased about his recent lack of minutes, but he has no complaints about how Porter handled the process. The Brazilian confirmed the coach had a conversation with him when he was about to take him out of the lineup and pointed out his reasons for that.
For him, to know from the coach what he needs to do was a good start, but he’s adamant he’s the only one with the power to change his current situation.
“He came to me before he made the change and explained his reasons,” Artur revealed. “As a player, I respect his decision and I feel he respects me too and I appreciate that. It’s always good to get feedback from your coach and understand how he sees things. Regardless of what I think about it, though, I know all I can do is work hard and try to do better to help the team and that’s what I’m doing.”
This was the first time the Brazilian was benched in his still young professional career. Porter said he’s handling it professionally and Artur admitted he talked with his older brother, Norberto, who’s a soccer player in Brazil, and their father about the situation.
He may have lost his starting spot for now, but one thing is for sure, his confidence is right there where it has been.
“I spoke with my brother and my father, like I always do,” the Brazilian said. “But regardless of what we think about it, there’s only one way out, which is staying humble, working hard and waiting for an opportunity. I’ve shown more than once that when I’m at my best, I’m a very important player for this team and that I can do things that not many players in my position can. So we’ll see what happens next.”
Artur is expected to have a new opportunity to start a game on Tuesday when the Crew hosts USL Championship’s Pittsburg Riverhounds at MAPFRE Stadium for the U.S. Open Cup. With teammate Wil Trapp selected for the U.S. Men’s National Team roster for the Gold Cup, the Brazilian should line up alongside Guzman at the center of the field.
According to Porter, that could be a first opportunity for him to regain his starting job.
“For us to lose Wil and to be able to slide in Artur, that’s the type of depth we need,” Porter said. “Guys are sometimes in, guys are sometimes out. He’s a good pro and he’s going to fight for it, he’s going to be great when he gets the opportunity again. Guys know there’s competition every week and there’s an audition for parts every week.”