After a somewhat unorganized start, Columbus Crew SC found its best game to defeat D.C. United 3-1 at MAPFRE Stadium and earn its third victory in four matches to start the 2018 Major League Soccer season on Saturday.
See how the Crew SC players performed in the game:
Jon Kempin (6.5) – Selected to replace Zack Steffen, the former LA Galaxy keeper was safe when he needed to use his hands, including in a courageous dive to dispossess Darren Mattocks inside the penalty box early in the match, but he was also shaky at times with his feet, turning the ball over in dangerous spots. There was nothing he could do to avoid Asad’s goal, though.
Harrison Afful (6) – The Ghanaian had a quieter offensive night than usual in the first half, but he was effective when he pushed forward. In the defensive end, he helped with four interceptions, but made the wrong choice to allow Asad way too much space on D.C.’s goal in a very fast play. After halftime, Afful pushed forward more often and created good plays down the right side.
Jonathan Mensah (6) – The veteran’s defensive game looks more consistent every match, with good positioning and smarter decisions than last season. But he still struggles with the ball on his feet at times, being a potential liability when the team needs to build out of the back. All things considered, it was another solid game for Jonathan.
Lalas Abubakar (5) – It was probably the lesast impressive match of the defender this season, as he picked up an early yellow card for an absolutely unnecessary foul near the midfield line and failed to deflect the long pass that led to United’s goal. He was taken off at halftime as Gregg Berhalter was afraid he would get a second yellow in the final half.
Milton Valenzuela (8) – The Argentinean had a nervous start, making unusual mistakes, but quickly found his best game. He was solid as usual in defense with three tackles and completely shutting Paul Arriola down. The 19-year-old fullback also showed a yet unseen offensive game, getting into the penalty box to score his first goal for the club and sending numerous crosses to D.C.’s box.
Ricardo Clark (6.5) – The veteran could not have hoped for a better first start with Crew SC as he scored the team’s second goal in a very important moment of the match and used his physicality to dominate the midfield, ending the game with two tackles and one interception, on top of an 87.2 percent passing efficiency.
Artur (6.5) – With Wil Trapp out, the Brazilian was assigned to play his tactical role and had ups and downs. His distribution out of the back was not as good as the captain’s, but Artur tried to push the team forward and he led team in shots with three to go along with a smart back heel pass that set the first goal up. The usual hard work was always there as well as he had the most tackles in the entire match with four.
Cristian Martinez (7.5) – The Panamanian alternated good plays and bad decisions throughout the match, but showed good movement and excellent vision to play a pivotal role in the team’s victory with a pair of assists. He missed a good opportunity to seal his great match with a goal in the second half, but it was definitely a positive night for Martinez.
Pedro Santos (8) – The Portuguese Designated Player had easily his most effective match of the season, scoring his first goal for Crew SC and creating good opportunities with his runs and on dead-ball situations. As usual, his work rate in the defensive end was above-average as registered three tackles, the second most for the team.
Federico Higuain (7.5) – Chosen by Berhalter to wear the captain’s armband in Trapp’s absence, Pipa actively participated in two of Crew SC’s goals, showing once again his importance to the team, especially on set pieces. He was also more active than usual, leading the team with 64 passes, which was important to make up for Trapp’s omission from a possession standpoint.
Gyasi Zardes (5.5) – The striker had a quiet first half, registering only one shot. He was more active early in the second part of the game, hitting the crossbar with a header, but failed to complete most of his not-many passes during the contest. The positive was his movement, which always helps teammates to get in good positions.
Josh Williams (6) – The veteran was called upon to replace Abubakar in the second half and did a fine job, helping Crew SC to control D.C.’s offense and to dominate possession. He also hit the crossbar with a header on a corner kick.
Mohammed Abu (6) – The Ghanaian entered the match with Crew SC’s victory virtually assured and he helped the team to maintain possession and keep United under control.
Niko Hansen (N/A) – The winger was subbed in with only a few minutes left and didn’t have time to show much.
Gregg Berhalter (7) – It took the team a while to figure out how to play without Trapp, but after a confusing start, Crew SC settled and imposed its playing style to dominate D.C. United. The coach was smart to replace Abubakar after halftime as the defender had already been booked and was not having one of his best nights.
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