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Game Grades: Crew SC vs. Toronto FC

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In a match where substitutes played a pivotal role, the Black & Gold earned a hard-fought point against the defending champions.

MLS: Toronto FC at Columbus Crew SC Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Crew SC rebounded from a rough start to score a last-minute goal and leave MAPFRE Stadium with a point as the team tied 3-3 with Toronto FC this Saturday to extend its undefeated streak to eight matches, remain in second place in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference and win the 2018 Trillium Cup.

It was a match of ups and downs for the Black & Gold, who played two very different halves, and much of the team’s comeback was led by young substitutes in the final portion of the game.

See how each player performed in the match:

Jon Kempin (6.5) – The keeper did a fine job when he needed to use his feet, but oddly enough, wasn’t much demanded with his hands. There was nothing Kempin could do on any of Toronto’s goals and he was lucky in a shot from Sebastian Giovinco that hit the post in the first half.

Harrison Afful (6.5) – The fullback had an unusual tactical role, shifting inside more often than he normally does. He pushed forward unceasingly in the second half and in one of these runs he hit the crossbar, but he was caught offside quite a few times too. Defensively, Afful had a rough night as Toronto’s first two goals were originated on plays on his side of the field.

Josh Williams (6) – The defender took good care of the ball, but gave way too much space for Giovinco in the first half and was easily dribbled by Victor Vazquez on the first goal. Williams was very important on the team’s second goal as he headed Higuain’s cross towards Crognale and helped on Crew SC’s final push to tie the game.

Lalas Abubakar (5.5) – The Ghanaian turned the ball over quite a few times in the back, but managed to recover in nearly all of them. Despite leading the team with seven clearances, he was dominated by Toronto’s offense, as was the entire backline.

Milton Valenzuela (6.5) – The Argentinean did a solid defensive job for most of the night, leading the team with four tackles, but he should have anticipated the pass to Tosaint Ricketts in the second goal, as that was the only option Toronto’s offense had. Offensively, he didn’t connect well with Grella for a huge portion of the game, but he managed to create some chances near the end.

Ricardo Clark (5.5) – The veteran played Wil Trapp’s role when the Crew had possession, sliding in between the center backs to build out of the back. Defensively, however, he was caught out of position quite a few times and his bad positioning disrupted the team’s backline on the second goal. His performance improved when he moved to central defense late in the match when Columbus shifted to three in the back.

Artur (6) – It wasn’t the best start of match for the Brazilian, who was booked for an unnecessary foul and conceded a penalty kick in the first 16 minutes. After that, he settled and helped the team, especially in transition and creating chances from the right side. His intensity, which sometimes seems to need better control, was infectious to his teammates in the end.

Niko Hansen (5) – The second-year winger was almost invisible during the first half and it didn’t get any better in the second part of the game. Hansen left the field after 63 minutes with just 14 touches and one dribble.

Federico Higuain © (6.5) - It started as an off night for Pipa, who struggled to connect his passes in the first half. The vision was always there, but execution was missing, as most of his attempts were just too long or wide. In the second half, however, his game changed and he not only was more active on Crew SC’s offensive third but also participated in each of the team’s three goals.

Mike Grella (5) – The veteran winger insisted a lot, trying to push the team forward in the first half, but pretty much nothing worked for him in his third start for the team. Grella, normally a very active player, had just one shot and no key passes in what was arguably his worst match for Crew SC.

Gyasi Zardes (7) – The forward was not involved much in the first half as most of the passes that went his way were misplaced or way too long. In the second half, Zardes showed great physical ability to outjump Toronto’s defense on the first goal and the hard work to remain on his feet on the play that generated the penalty kick.

Alex Crognale (7.5) – The second-year center back entered the match in a moment when Crew SC was all about attacking and, aside from keeping things under control in the back when Toronto tried to connect counter attacks, he managed to score a very important goal.

Eduardo Sosa (6.5) – The Venezuelan played his first MLS minutes for Crew SC and showed some promise with some good runs on the right side and smart passes around and inside the penalty box. His presence changed the speed of the game and his energy pushed the team forward.

Luis Argudo (6.5) – The rookie was placed on the left side of Crew SC’s offensive line and even if he was less active than Sosa, his presence was important in the team’s comeback. The 22-year-old midfielder shows every match that he can be a valuable alternative coming off the bench.

Gregg Berhalter (6.5) – The team’s first half performance was inexplicably disappointing and if the coach couldn’t change things in his halftime talk, he managed to do that by making three substitutions at the same time. The team’s tactical shift helped the Black & Gold to finally create some danger to Toronto and the substitutes brought a new energy to the game.