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Game Grades: Crew SC vs. San Jose Earthquakes

How did Crew SC perform in the team’s first win a month.

It was back to winning ways for Columbus Crew SC on Saturday.

The Black & Gold put four consecutive matches without a victory (0-3-1) behind them, defeating the San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 at MAPFRE Stadium. While it wasn’t a perfect performance by any means, a win is a win.

Let’s take a look at how each Crew SC player performed in the contest:

Zack Steffen (7) - The Columbus goalkeeper was his usual solid self in between the posts. Steffen was not bothered much by the Earthquakes, facing only one shot on goal. Unfortunately for him, that shot went in, but there was not much Steffen could have done to prevent it.

Harrison Afful (7) - Definitely boosted by his goal, Afful played well but not exceptional. He was active in the offensive third, taking advantage of the space San Jose gave him down the outside. He did finish the first half chance, but wasted a few others and could still be more accurate on his crosses.

Jonathan Mensah (8) - It was a quiet night for Jonathan, but that’s typically a good thing for a center back. He did have one pass out of the back that went to the Quakes, but nothing came of it. Other than that, he was solid defensively.

Lalas Abubakar (6) - It was a weird game for Abubakar. The second-year player lost Danny Hoesen on San Jose’s goal, but made some important tackles in the second half. He still goes to ground too easily when tackling, which didn’t hurt him in this game.

Milton Valenzuela (8) - Once again, the young Argentine was very good. He got forward well, but was, as usual, solid defensively with two interceptions and two clearances. Valenzuela was also credited with a secondary assist on the opening goal.

Wil Trapp (7) - As is normally the case, the Crew SC captain played a solid game. He was his typical self, running things in the center of the park — completing over 90 percent of his passes and leading the team in touches (108) — and was active defensively as well with two tackles.

Artur (6) - After some rather subpar performances from the Brazilian midfielder, Artur looked more like himself on Saturday. He still hasn’t played quite like fans expect after his play a year ago, but this game was a positive step.

Niko Hansen (5) - After a positive first start a week ago, Hansen was more or less a non-factor against the Quakes. He was not on the ball nearly enough, and when he was, Hansen was unable to do anything with it.

Pedro Santos (8) - If Hansen didn’t provide enough on one wing, Santos certainly did on the other. The Portuguese winger was active throughout the match and registered the game-winning assist. And this all came after an injury to his hand that will require an X-ray. The only knock is that he only completed 69 percent of his passes.

Federico Higuain (7) - Pipa played well in this game, but at times it seemed like he was trying to do too much. He looked to make passes that weren’t there in a couple of instances, but was also very active with the second-most touches on the team (104).

Gyasi Zardes (4) - You might ask where the Crew SC striker was in this game, and that would be a fair question. He only had 17 touches of the ball and missed a clear-cut chance in front of goal in the second half. There will be better days ahead for Zardes.

Mike Grella (9) - In his debut for Crew SC Grella came on and saved the day with his late goal. But it wasn’t just that. In 25 minutes, he was on the ball 34 times and completed 78 percent of his passes. Not bad for a player that was out with a knee injury since early last June.

Ricardo Clark (7) - The veteran midfielder came in to replace Artur with 11 minutes remaining in the match and raised the level in the midfield. He completed all of his passes and made an important tackle in midfield, helping to see out the match after the Grella goal.

Adam Jahn (6) - After coming on with nine minutes to go, Jahn didn’t do much with his limited opportunity.

Gregg Berhalter (7) - As stated above, it wasn’t the best performance of the year from Crew SC, but the team managed a win at home. Berhalter made the choice to bring on Grella, and it paid off in a big way.