Columbus Crew SC is proving tough to beat after a historic 10-match stretch to begin the 2020 Major League Soccer season. The Crew is 7-1-2, the best start in team history, atop the Eastern Conference and Supporters’ Shield standings and has only been scored on twice all.
The Black & Gold started the season with an impressive five-match unbeaten streak, including the regular season and MLS is Back group games, before falling 1-0 to New York City FC on Aug. 24 in the one blemish on the club’s record thus far. The Crew has rebounded from that loss with a draw followed by back-to-back wins, most recently punishing in-state rival FC Cincinnati 3-0 on Sunday night.
Despite a defense unrivaled in MLS spanning a decade and an offense that has more than carried its weight with 16 goals scored in 10 matches, many Columbus fans feel the club has still not received the recognition it deserves as legitimate contenders at the top of the league. This has been reflected in both the ESPN and MLS power rankings, where despite being at the top of the standings at the end of multiple game weeks during the course of the season, the Black & Gold had never moved higher than second and the continued lack of players receiving MLS Team of the Week honors.
That is until now. Following a four-day stretch where the Crew secured two wins with consecutive shutouts, the Crew moved up to the number one spot in both ESPN and MLS power rankings moving into Match 11. This follows both MLS and ESPN’s former number one ranked club, Toronto FC, falling out of favor with back-to-back losses.
Here is what the two outlets had to say about the new top team:
ESPN: Current Rank: 1; previous ranking: 3
“Columbus has a five-point gap to its closest challengers in the Supporters’ Shield race, a 99% chance of reaching playoffs (according to FiveThirtyEight’s Soccer Power Index) and its defensive record through 10 matches (two goals conceded, eight clean sheets) is unmatched in MLS since the Galaxy in 2010.”
MLS: Current Rank: 1; [revious ranking: 3
“The Crew lead the Supporters’ Shield race with 23 points and have eight shutouts on the year, vaulting into the Power Rankings’ peak. They’re also 2-0-1 against Hell is Real rivals FC Cincinnati this season, and took maximum points from two matches at MAPFRE Stadium last week. Everything’s clicking for head coach Caleb Porter’s group.”
The Crew looks to stay at the top of the power rankings, as well as both the Eastern Conference and Supporters’ Shield standings when the team faces long-time rival Chicago Fire this Saturday night at 3:30 p.m. ET. The last time the two clubs met, the Black & Gold soundly handled the Fire 3-0 and another victory of that caliber will surely see Columbus secure its spot on the top of the mountain moving into MLS Phase 2.