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Game grades: Crew SC vs. Minnesota United

How did the Black & Gold players and staff perform in the regular season finale?

MLS: Minnesota United FC at Columbus Crew SC Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Crew SC closed out the 2018 Major League Soccer regular season with a 3-2 win over Minnesota United at MAPFRE Stadium that included over an hour weather delay. The Black & Gold built a 2-0 lead before the Loons came fighting back, but a late winner saw Columbus take all three points heading into the MLS Cup playoffs.

Here’s how each Crew sC player fared in the match:

Zack Steffen (5): It wasn’t the best performance from the Crew SC goalkeeper. Steffen faced two shots on goal from Minnesota and both of them went in. Although he wasn’t helped by his defense much on either Loon goal.

Harrison Afful (6): The Crew SC fullback was not involved nearly as often as he normally is for the Black & Gold with just 67 touches. He had two crosses in the match, but neither found a teammate.

Josh Williams (6): Williams played a solid game at the back for Columbus. He had one tackle and four clearances while blocking one shot.

Gaston Sauro (7): The center back seems to be finding his form as the season comes to a close. After not playing much this season, Sauro has back-to-back positive performances.

Milton Valenzuela (8): Defensively, Valenzuela was good, leading the team with eight tackles. On the offensive side of the ball, the overlapping fullback was dangerous on the left-hand side and registered an assist on the first goal.

Niko Hansen (7): Making his second straight start, Hansen was rather active on the right side of Crew SC’s attack and completed 85.7 percent of his passes. His one-touch ball driven back into the six-yard box setup the game-winning goal.

Wil Trapp (6): Quietly another good performance from Trapp. He assisted the team in the middle of the park but could have been better in helping to regain control after Crew SC’s second goal.

Artur (6): The central midfielder got on the ball a good amount throughout the game and was his usual self. The Black & Gold could still use him to be more involved offensively with just one shot.

Justin Meram (6): After not playing last week, many expected a motivated Meram on Sunday. That was not evident, though, as the winger was not involved in the game nearly enough with just 47 touches and 33 passes before being substituted in the 59th minute.

Federico Higuain (7): The playmaker was active offensively for large chunks of the match. He was credited with two assists from set pieces and completed 80.4 percent of his 51 passes.

Gyasi Zardes (10): It’s hard to find much wrong when a forward scores three goals. But Zardes was on the ball more than he’s been recently and that seemed to get him going. He had six shots and two key passes to go along with his hat trick.

Pedro Santos (6): The winger was used off the bench for only the second time in his Crew SC career. He fired a shot quickly after coming into the game in the 59th minute and completed 83.3 percent of his passes.

Lalas Abubakar: (5): It was not a good 33 minutes for the center back off the bench. He committed an unnecessary foul that led to the free kick that created the first goal. To compound that, Abubakar didn’t mark his man on the set piece and that led directly to the goal.

Patrick Mullins (5): Brought in with 16 minutes to play, the forward did not do much. He had just four touches and no shots playing alongside Zardes.

Gregg Berhalter (6): It’s always tricky managing a match with a delay. Berhalter’s side came out strong after the wait. But after taking a 2-0 lead, the team took its foot off the gas and let Minnesota back into the game. Fortunately, Zardes was on fire and grabbed the winner.