By the numbers. of Ohio Business Machines | Team-first mentality keeps the crew undefeated

What stands out the most about the crew so far in 2022 is the first team identity that has come to light in the first month of the season.

In all four games, head coach Caleb Porter deployed the same starting lineup – something that hasn’t happened since 2015. Perhaps that changes given the severity of Lucas’ right knee injury Zelarayán (or just a general rotation of the squad), but it shows the club has a consistency that was sometimes lacking last year.

Six players have scored at least one goal in 2022, and the 10 overall leads the Eastern Conference. As for the defensive game, Columbus only conceded on set pieces. Porter said that’s a problem in itself — the team needs to stop conceding dead-ball moments — but having the backline not broken down throughout the game is admirable.

It should also not go unnoticed that despite Porter using the same starters, the guys coming off the bench had instant impacts as well. Gyasi Zardes nearly found the next few minutes after his game against the New York Red Bulls, and contributions from Alexandru Matan and Luis Díaz in the last-minute counterattack on Sunday afternoon led to the equalizer.

In the Crew’s last three matches, they conceded first but rallied to go unbeaten. As Santos mentioned, it certainly reiterates the mentality of the team. But so is the consistency of individuals across the team and the energy injected by the substitutions during each second half.

By this stage of last season, the Crew had already changed their backline several times from a schedule saturated with Concacaf Champions League matches. In four games this season, Porter has kept the same backline and the players have each logged a full 90 minutes.

It’s a stat that shouldn’t be underestimated, and that all-or-nothing 100-yard sprint from right-back Steven Moreira shouldn’t help Darlington Nagbe either.