Columbus Crew SC pulled a last-minute 3-2 victory over the Montreal Impact in its 2018 MLS home opener with a brace from Gyasi Zardes and a goal from Federico Higuain. It was an inconsistent match for the Black & Gold however, but the team was rewarded regardless with a late game-winner that gave Crew SC its second win early in the season.
See how each of the Black & Gold’s players rated in the match:
Zack Steffen (7.5) – The goalkeeper did a fine job when he needed to stop shots or use his feet, except for a bad giveaway in the second half that almost costed the team a goal. There was nothing he could do about both Montreal goals, but he was instrumental in the team’s victory by deflecting a Victor Cabrera’s header near the end of the match.
Harrison Afful (5.5) – The Ghanaian right back was all over the place in the first half and helped Crew SC to create several goal-scoring opportunities early in the match. He was still dangerous in the second half, even if less present in the offensive field, but was way too inconsistent on defensive end, being beaten by his man on both of the Impact’s goals.
Jonathan Mensah (6.5) – The veteran showed better ball control than last season, with 91.4 percent of his passes reaching their destination, and was in good spots for the most of the game, helping with seven clearances and three tackles, including a crucial one inside the penalty box late in the match. His solid performance helped Crew SC to shut Matteo Mancosu down.
Lalas Abubakar (7.5) – The second-year defender dominated Montreal’s offense with a handful of tackles and interceptions in the first half. He also drew a first half penalty for Crew SC on a corner kick. His good form continued in the second part of the game, when the Impact attacked more, making him the most solid piece of the team’s backline with an impressive nine clearances.
Milton Valenzuela (6.5) – The 19-year-old Argentinean was very committed to the system, performing a solidly on the defensive end, except when he was caught out of position on the second goal. He pushed forward when he saw the opportunity and combined with Pedro Santos for a few good plays out wide, but also showed an interesting tendency to run inside the penalty box without the ball to finish crosses from the opposite side.
Wil Trapp (6.5) – The captain had a solid game doing what he usually does, which is protecting the backline and helping to create out of the back. His ball distribution was good and he led the team in passes, with 61, in addition to registering three tackles and one interception on the defensive side of the ball.
Artur (7.5) – The Brazilian made a couple of unnecessary fouls, including one around the box, but was everywhere around the midfield line, winning the ball and distributing it as efficiently as usual, with an outstanding 91.4 percent passing accuracy. His offensive game is still a work in progress, but he managed to be part of the second goal, when he headed the ball in the post before Gyasi Zardes scored.
Cristian Martinez (6) – The Panamanian showed good effort on both sides of the game, recovering the ball in dangerous positions and using his pace to put Montreal’s defense in trouble. He started the second half below his starting level, though, turning the ball over way too much and was replaced by Luis Argudo.
Pedro Santos (5.5) – The Designated Player was probably the most unassertive piece of Crew SC’s front line with only 23 passes completed. A bad turnover from him resulted in Montreal’s first goal, but he worked tirelessly on the defensive end, registering four tackles and one interception. Hats off to him on the free kick cross that resulted in the second goal as well.
Federico Higuain (6.5) – Pipa showed his habitual calm and class to convert the first PK early in the game, but other than that, he was not as active as usual, ranking only sixth in the team in passes completed (42). He was dangerous around the box, but didn’t connect his final passes as frequently as usual.
Gyasi Zardes (8.5) – The forward seems to be a better fit with Crew SC every match. His smart movement, as shown on the first goal, and simple playing style are working very well with the team’s system. His second half was a little under-the-radar, but scoring the game-winner obviously makes up for that and shows how confident the newcomer is with the club as he asked Federico Higuain to take the PK in a decisive moment of the match.
Luis Argudo (7.5) – The rookie played for 32 minutes and started with an impressive early run down the field. He was quiet for the most part of the next 20 minutes, but kept fighting until the end and drew the second PK, which ultimately gave Crew SC the victory.
Alex Crognale (6) – The center back entered the match late and the team conceded the equalizer only a few minutes later, but there’s nothing to blame on him on Montreal’s goal. He didn’t have much work after that, as Crew SC pushed forward to try the victory.
Ricardo Clark (N/A) – The veteran made his debut for the club, but stayed on the field for no more than a few seconds, coming in for Lalas Abubakar right after the game-winning goal.
Gregg Berhalter (7) – The team showed very positive signs early in the season, such as the abilities to build out of the back and to take advantage of its scoring opportunities, but the unanswered performance drop in the second half is a concern. Putting Luis Argudo in paid off in the end.