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Columbus Crew vs. Toronto FC (Notes & Grades)

Grading the final test of the season.

Jamie Sabau

The Crew closed out the year with a win against a dreadful TFC team. Attention turns to next year.

  • The attacking group of Federico Higuain, Jairo Arrieta, and Eddie Gaven were quite sharp against a Toronto team that gave them plenty of space to work. That's the start of a great offense.
  • Ben Speas looked solid on his debut. He was adept at attacking space, but struggled when it came to picking out teammates. Perhaps that's adrenaline of the first start, but he will need to see the field better.
  • Left midfield remains a bit of a question. There are parts there, but Dilly Duka, Justin Meram, and Speas are all young and are prone to inconsistency. The team will have to decide if any are ready to step up in 2013.
  • The second choice central midfield combo of Tony Tchani and Chris Birchall was able to dominate the center of the field. Passing was sharp and Toronto often had to look wide to get off a chance.
  • Carlos Mendes only had 40 touches on the day, but had 15 clearances. He was also 100% passing on the day. It was a study of economy.
  • There were a lot of good performances on the Crew, but it's important to remember that they came against a Toronto team that twice set records of futility in the same year and finished the last 10 games at 0-10-4.

Gruenebaum (6): Another good performance to end the season. Still tends to look long when passing the ball out of the back.
Miranda (6): Saw a lot of the ball and looked to push up high every chance he got. Stalwart defensive performance.
Mendes (7): Not a single bad pass according to Opta. 20 passes, 20 completions. He also cleaned up in the back with 15 clearances.
Gehrig: (4): Struggled mightily in the first half as he showed some rust, but improved in the second to put in a decent effort. Passing was shocking from a central defender at 63%.
Williams (6): Much like Miranda, he pushed well up. He provided a good overlapping option for Speas and Renteria.
Birchall (6): Better at keeping hold of the ball as he was sharper with his passes. Toronto's midfield struggled to build through the center in part to his solid defense.
Tchani (6): A quietly impressive game as he sat just ahead of Birchall. His passing was much better than normal and he created a few chances himself.
Gaven (6): Working mostly on the right, his movement and energy helped with several first half breakouts. He really works well with Higuain and Arrieta.
Speas (6): Kept his head down too often, but showed flashes of being a contributor in 2013. Looked to attack, one on one, much like Dilly Duka and Justin Meram.
Higuain (7): One of his better games for the team. He repeatedly showed excellent vision, getting the ball into dangerous spots. Well taken first goal and earned the PK for the second.
Arrieta (6): Another very fine performance as the high forward. He was tireless in tracking down pass after pass and then looking to bring Gaven, Speas, or Higuain into the mix.
Renteria (5): His hustle and energy on the left side were positives, but they didn't turn into much in the way of chances.
George (NR): Time killing sub number one.
Meram (NR): Time killing sub number two.
Coaching (6): A good performance from a team with little to play for. Getting Speas first team minutes in a low leverage situation was a good move and the rookie responded.

Note on Grades: I have set 5 as an average performance. The player had both good and bad events on the field. Under 5 is a disappointing performance. Above 5 is a notable performance.