Columbus Crew head coach Caleb Porter knew that not being able to count on key duo Darlington Nagbe and Pedro Santos was a blow ahead of Saturday’s MLS Cup against Seattle Sounders, but used the situation to fire up his players some more.
The Crew put the adversity behind them to defeat the Sounders 3-0 in a dominant performance inside MAPFRE Stadium, after preparations for the final were disrupted with midfielders Nagbe and Santos ruled out, reportedly due to positive COVID-19 results.
“I think there was a little bit of extra motivation to do this for Darlington Nagbe and Pedro Santos,” said Porter in a video conference after the MLS Cup victory.
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“Those two guys were a key to us getting here. Without them, it was a tall order, but I think we used that to galvanize the group even more and give us even a little bit more hunger than we had already, which was a lot.”
Lucas Zelarayan opened the scoring, netted the team’s final goal and provided an assist for Derrick Etienne’s second and while Porter was full of praise for the Argentine, the 45-year-old stressed that the Crew collectively believed that it was going to be its day against the reigning MLS Cup holders.
“As much as I have the utmost respect for Seattle Sounders and Brian Schmetzer with Jordan Morris and [Raul] Ruidiaz …. Cristian Roldan and Stefan Frei, we were not going to let history or the past determine today,” said Porter.
“This was going to be our year, our day and our trophy.
“That was the message before the game.
“I don’t care about what they’ve done in the past, it’s going to be decided on today. I think we showed that. We came out, we fought, we had intensity in the match from the opening whistle.”