“I’m on board for the long haul.” Columbus Crew head coach Caleb Porter recently stated.
Porter has a track record of being a forward-thinking coach. Regularly throughout the season during post-match press conferences, Porter looked at the bigger picture, as opposed to any one particular matchup. Evidence of this was seen mere moments after the Black & Gold secured the Eastern Conference championship. when the coach had one message for his Crew players: “There’s a much bigger trophy, the one that everyone f***ing remembers, The MLS Cup.”
When speaking about the upcoming MLS Cup Final, which, it was determined on Monday night, will be against the defending champion Seattle Sounders, Porter made his intentions very clear. “We’re going to hope to win (the MLS Cup) this year, but we’re going to keep trying to win every single year,” he said. “We want to build a culture of winning year after year after year and contending for trophies.”
Porter made it clear upon his arrival that the Crew needs to put more trophies in the trophy case. He wants to build a dynasty in Columbus.
The Seattle Sounders are a club that knows a thing or two about building a dynasty. Seattle is arguably the team to beat in Major League Soccer today and in recent years. The Sounders have captured four U.S. Open Cup titles, a Supporters’ Shield and two MLS Cups in the last decade. And on Sunday, Seattle enters MAPFRE Stadium contending for the crown jewel of MLS for the fourth time in five seasons.
Seattle has become a club that nobody wants to meet in the postseason, and that is why the Sounders are the opponents that Crew needs to meet this Sunday.
Columbus has always been viewed as a small market team, regularly overlooked for the likes of hot, new expansion teams. The Crew is often overshadowed by clubs hailing from the bigger markets, with the fans of the Black & Gold often pointing out the lack of inclusion for Crew players in media promotions. The lack of national exposure for Columbus, even when the club was at the top of the league, is close to non-existent.
The storyline of a potential championship for the Crew in the 2020 season almost writes itself for Columbus detractors. The Black & Gold played the worst team in the league (FC Cincinnati) four times throughout the regular season. The Crew couldn’t get the job done in the MLS is Back Tournament. Columbus faced off against the No. 6, No. 7 and No. 8 seeds to get to the MLS Cup Final. All of the pieces seemed to be in place to call this run to the MLS Cup Final a fluke.
Enter the Sounders.
The legitimacy Seattle brings into the MLS Cup Final is what Columbus needs to live up to the moniker of “Massive.” With MLS’s most recent dynasty entering Columbus to defend its title on Sunday, the narrative now becomes the Crew’s to control.
Was making the MLS Cup a happenstance of circumstance? That question becomes null and void with a win against the Sounders on Sunday evening. All prior narratives become muted grumblings, overshadowed by the triumphant defeat of the defending MLS Cup champions by the small-market club that, according to “business metrics,” shouldn’t continue to exist. The narrative shifts to all eyes on the Crew if the team is able to capture this MLS Cup title against the Sounders before marching off to downtown Columbus with a new stadium next year. The question becomes can Porter, backed by the Black & Gold’s new ownership, truly build a dynasty in Columbus?
And that is why, even though Sounders may be the most daunting opponent to have to overcome in the MLS Cup Final in 2020, Seattle is also the perfect opponent for this Crew side to make the statement that they’ve arrived.