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Game Grades: Crew SC vs. Chicago Fire

How each Black & Gold player performed in the team’s third consecutive home victory.

MLS: Chicago Fire at Columbus Crew SC Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Crew SC ended a tough week with three matches played over eight days with seven points thanks to a 3-0 victory over the Chicago Fire at MAPFRE Stadium.

The team had a solid overall performance, dominating the rivals for the entire match and creating several goal scoring opportunities despite of resting fullback Milton Valenzuela and captain Wil Trapp.

Check how each Black & Gold player performed against the Fire:

Zack Steffen (7.5) – There might be something that we don’t know between the keeper and the Fire, as he turned the ball over in a very dangerous spot again and was lucky this time by not having to retrieve it from the back of the net. Other than that, Steffen was solid all night.

Harrison Afful (8.5) – The fullback has been Crew SC’s most effective offensive player lately and that was the case again tonight as the Ghanaian not only was directly involved in the play that generated the penalty kick but also hit the post in the first half. Defensively, he had some trouble with Aleksander Katai, but nothing that turned into a problem for the team.

Jonathan Mensah (7.5) – The Ghanaian led Crew SC’s defense with impressive nine clearances, most of them a result of his good positioning. Jonathan helped to keep Nemanja Nikolic under control and it was night with no hiccups for him.

Josh Williams (7.5) – The veteran seemed a little off his position on Chicago’s best chance, but other than that, he had no trouble to contain the opposition’s offensive efforts. Williams played one of his finest passing games to date, connecting 94.6 percent of his 74 passes, the second-highest number on the entire team. One of them set Grella up for a dangerous opportunity.

Hector Jimenez (7) – The versatile player had more of a defensive role during the match, staying home and freeing Afful to push forward, and he did a great job in Columbus’ own third. In one of the few times he advanced, he made a dangerous curling cross that almost caught Richard Sanchez off guard.

Ricardo Clark (7.5) – The veteran made his presence felt in the center of the field with great positioning and intelligence to distribute the ball out of the back, completing 93.6 percent of his 62 passes. In one of the few times he rushed forward, Clark assisted Zardes for Crew SC’s third goal.

Artur (7) – The Brazilian covered a lot of ground and dominated the center of the field. Without Trapp by his side, he was more involved offensively and he had solid ball distribution. The only negative note was an unnecessary foul on Katai near the penalty box, which could have put the team in trouble.

Pedro Santos (N/A) – The Portuguese’s return after suspension was brief as he got injured early in the match and left the field in the 10th minute.

Federico Higuain (8.5) - Wearing the captain’s armband, Pipa was more involved than usual, leading the team with 75 passes. He knew when to accelerate or slow down the game and scored an important goal for the team by converting a penalty kick with a powerful shot. He could have scored a second goal, but his long-distance shot hit the post.

Mike Grella (7.5) – The veteran surprised many by playing over 70 minutes in his first start with Crew SC. Grella had a quiet first half but started the second part of the game on fire, using his skills to create chances from the left side. He also showed all his smartness to set Zardes up for the third goal without even touching the ball.

Gyasi Zardes (9) – The forward hustled to create space inside the penalty box and his good movement generated the penalty kick. In the second half, he thrived on his specialty, the one-touch finishes, by getting a brace. Zardes was inches away from his first hat trick with Crew SC as his header hit the post.

Niko Hansen (7.5) – The winger came off the bench early in the match and brought a different level of energy for Crew SC’s offense. Hansen had a volley shot deflected and created issues for the Fire’s defense with his runs, including the incredible one that ended in the team’s second goal.

Cristian Martinez (7) - The Panamanian had a little over 15 minutes to show his game and he made good use of his time, taking advantage of a clearly tired Fire backline to create opportunities from the right side.

Adam Jahn (N/A) – The striker entered the game with just a few minutes to go and didn’t have time to do much.

Gregg Berhalter (8.5) – A 3-0 victory and arguably the team’s best performance of the season were the icing on the cake for the coach, who did a masterful job over the week on managing the minutes of his players during three matches in eight days and kept Crew SC’s best team in the field for the most portion of each game.