Columbus Crew SC came up short as the team missed its first opportunity to clinch a playoff spot in the scoreless tie with the Philadelphia Union at MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday. The Black & Gold controlled the game but couldn’t hurt their opponent and direct competitors for the fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
Here is how the players fared against the Union:
Zack Steffen (6.5) – The goalkeeper didn’t have much work to do in the game with the Union firing no shots on target. He was safe with the ball on his feet and when he had to collect some crosses in the penalty box and was brave to jump over Cory Burke when he had a chance to finish from short-range and earn a free kick.
Harrison Afful (6.5) – The Ghanaian was not as active as usual in the first half, but he did a good job in containing Fafa Picault’s speed. With the team in need of a goal, he pushed forward in the final portion of the game and he got more involved, firing a dangerous shot that Andre Blake saved, but remaining solid defensively.
Jonathan Mensah (6.5) – The center back had an important block on a Cory Burke shot early on and followed it up with a couple of well-time interceptions and five clearances over the game. His only shaky moment happened when he seemed a little flushed and ultimately sent the ball into his own net in the Union goal that was called off.
Lalas Abubakar (5) – The young defender did well when he needed to step outside the penalty box and registered four clearances but, even though he was fouled, he could never have let Burke continue his run to score the Union’s disallowed goal. He failed to stop a pass to Alejandro Bedoya early in the second half and was taken off by Berhalter.
Milton Valenzuela (6.5) – The Argentinean was smart enough to explore the space he found on the left side of the field and generated some good chances, including a perfect low cross to Zardes, who couldn’t finish it. He also fed Meram for a couple of good plays and held his own against a much more physical C.J. Sapong on the defensive side of the ball.
Wil Trapp © (6) – With the Union attacking more through the wings, the captain had a quiet defensive night for the most part. In the second half, with the team pushing forward he was required to cover more ground and did a good job with it. He was also important to help the defenders to get the ball forward despite the Union’s high pressure.
Artur (5.5) – The Brazilian moved outside his usual central spot and played an important role in helping both fullbacks to defend. He also stopped what could have become dangerous runs from the Union, but didn’t add much to the team on the offensive end.
Pedro Santos (4.5) – Except for a couple of dangerous runs on the left, the Portuguese winger was uncommonly quiet in the first half. To his credit, he had the confidence to keep firing long-distance shots. His performance didn’t change in the second half and he was replaced by Hansen.
Federico Higuaín (5.5) – Most of Crew SC’s chances in the first half passed by his feet as the Argentinean displayed great vision to find his teammates in good spots. His level dropped significantly in the second half as the team struggled to find space through Philadelphia’s defense.
Justin Meram (5.5) – The winger had ups and in downs in the first half, alternating good runs on the flanks with unforced turnovers. His game got more consistent in the second part of the match, but despite his high energy level and the willingness to shoot, he couldn’t deliver the final product.
Gyasi Zardes (5) – The striker had to work hard against a physical Philly backline. He tried to escape to the left side, but didn’t manage to create much from there. He missed the team’s best scoring opportunity, the only one he had, in the first half when he couldn’t tap Valenzuela’s cross in from inside the six-yard box.
Josh Williams (6) – The veteran came on early in the second half and kept the Union’s forwards under control by prevailing in the physical battle with Burke. He also notched a great long pass to Zardes which the forward couldn’t control.
Niko Hansen (5.5) – The young winger tried to bring some pace to the game. He took good care of the ball and slightly impacted the game with his intensity, but it wasn’t enough to make the team necessarily more dangerous.
Eduardo Sosa (5) – The Venezuelan was Berhalter’s last move to improve the team’s offensive power and he created a good chance after the intercepted a pass in the center of the field, sprinted and fed Meram up front, but not much more than that.
Gregg Berhalter (6) – His team was well-organized for all 90 minutes and didn’t allow many chances to the Union, but it might have lacked some aggressiveness and sense of urgency in a game it should have won. That was reflected by the fact that the first shot on target was fired in the 78th minute.