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Game Grades: Crew SC vs. Sporting Kansas City

How did each Black & Gold player perform in the team’s scoreless draw at KC?

MLS: Columbus Crew at Sporting KC Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Crew SC extended its undefeated streak to seven matches as the Black & Gold held Sporting Kansas City to a scoreless draw at the Children’s Mercy Park. It was a meaningful point won by the Crew, as the team was down a man for half of the match against the best side in the Western Conference and a very dangerous opponent.

Check how each player contributed the result:

Zack Steffen (8.5) – The team’s fifth-straight shutout was a good display of the goalkeeper’s current form, as Steffen was as reliable as you can expect for a shot stopper, helping the Crew with three important saves and a lot of confidence in deciding moments.

Harrison Afful (7.5) – It was an unusual night for the Ghanaian right back, as Afful was clearly more effective on the defensive side of the ball — where he amassed a team-high four interceptions and two clearances — than offensively, as he had only two shots and two crosses.

Josh Williams (7.5) – It was a quiet night for the veteran, who commanded Crew SC’s defense with his leadership and registered just one interception and one clearance. Williams was perfect on the ball, connecting each of the 30 passes he attempted.

Lalas Abubakar (7) – The young center back was solid for most of the match and led the team with five clearances. His only lapse happened in a play where he allowed space for Khiry Shelton to shoot twice with his second attempt hitting Steffen’s right post.

Milton Valenzuela (8) – The Argentinean led the team with four tackles and did a great job defensively, shutting down a strong Kansas City right side with Graham Zusi and Johnny Russell, who combined for just one shot and eight crosses, most of them from bad spots.

Wil Trapp © (8) -The captain covered a lot of ground in the center portion of the field and was instrumental on helping Crew SC to keep possession, especially when team was a man-down. Even without numerous defensive actions, Trapp’s presence was important to force SKC’s players wide.

Artur (7) – Like Trapp, the Brazilian was a solid presence in front of Crew SC’s backline. The two interceptions and two clearances he registered don’t tell the whole story about his performance.

Cristian Martinez (6.5) – The Panamanian played an important tactical role, tracking down Kansas City’s fullbacks and helping the team to counter attack quickly. He also had a great cross to a Zardes’ header in the first half. His attempt to slap Seth Sinovic off the ball could have costed the team, though.

Federico Higuain (5.5) – It wasn’t the best night for Pipa, who created the play that ended in the penalty kick before he was sent off just before the halftime whistle. Even though the red card was debatable, Pipa’s sliding tackle was reckless and unnecessary in the attacking third.

Mike Grella (6.5) – The veteran winger showed great effort to stay on the field for 66 minutes in a match where Columbus was outnumbered and contribute with three tackles. Grella was not brilliant with the ball on his feet, but his individual play helped the team to draw some fouls and keep SKC’s defenders busy.

Gyasi Zardes (7) – The striker’s movement was great all night and put him in favorable positions a number of times, but Zardes arguably wasted Columbus’ best goal scoring opportunities as he missed a penalty kick and failed to bury it in a header where he had time and space to do better.

Luis Argudo (6.5) – The rookie came in for Grella and kept the energy level high on the left side. The Crew was more concerned about defending that attacking when Argudo entered the match, but he managed to be useful regardless.

Gaston Sauro (7) – The Argentinean center back probably hoped for a less demanding match to return to the field after 19 months, but he did well regardless in his return.

Gregg Berhalter (8) – It was a very good performance from the Crew, as the team was arguably more dangerous than Kansas City when both teams had 11 players on the field and, even after Higuain’s red, the Black & Gold kept pushing forward and showing its recent defensive stability.