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Game Grades: Crew SC vs. Real Salt Lake

How did each Black & Gold player perform in the team’s first victory since May 19?

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Columbus Crew SC Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

After a month of struggles, Columbus Crew SC managed to end its five-match winless streak as the team prevailed 2-1 over the Real Salt Lake at MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday. It was the Black & Gold’s eighth win on the 2018 MLS season and the sixth at home.

Check how each played fared in the match against the Western Conference rivals:

Jon Kempin (6.5) – The backup goalkeeper seemed way more reliable than in previous matches, either playing with his feet or stopping the few RSL shots that went on target. He came up big to deflect a short-range finish from Albert Rusnak in the second half, but couldn’t avoid the Czech’s goal a few minutes later.

Harrison Afful (5.5) – The fullback had some good offensive runs at the start of the match and a smart headed pass to help set Santos up on the team’s second goal. He couldn’t keep the same rhythm as the match progressed and struggled with RSL’s offense at times near the end of the game, but had a decent night overall.

Jonathan Mensah (7) – The Ghanaian seemed to have good immediate chemistry with Sauro and was perfect every time he had to step outside the penalty box to stop plays. He led the team with five interceptions and was the team’s most solid defender all night despite his below-average 71.4 percent passing accuracy.

Gaston Sauro (6.5) – The Argentinean made his first MLS start for the Crew since October 2016 and he showed great positioning inside the penalty box. Near the end of the first half, he made an important slide tackle (one of his three, a team-high) on Jefferson Savarino when he was about to enter the box. On RSL’s goal, though, he missed Rusnak inside the penalty area.

Hector Jimenez (6) – The veteran had a quiet game, taking care of RSL’s offense on his side of the field with two tackles and one interception and had limited offensive presence. On one of his runs forward, though, he fired a dangerous shot that hit the crossbar in the second half.

Wil Trapp © (6) – The captain had a clean night on the ball, completing 88.2 percent of his passes even playing under RSL’s high pressure for a good part of the game. He had a couple of important defensive actions in the center of the field, but didn’t contribute much offensively.

Artur (6.5) – The Brazilian’s role was important to help the team break RSL’s high pressure as he was always in position to get to the ball. He was also effective in transition, pushing the team forward at times. On the negative side, an unnecessary foul he made near the penalty box could have put the team in trouble.

Pedro Santos (6) – The Portuguese’s game was simpler but far more effective than in previous matches and his assist to Sosa, one of his three key passes in the match, was a good example of that. He needs to control his emotions as, even though there are fouls on him that are not called, his frequent arguments with referees will get him unnecessary cards.

Eduardo Sosa (7) – It was a very good first MLS start for the Venezuelan for the most part as he was not scared with the task of replacing Federico Higuain and took the responsibility of organizing the team’s offense. His ability to dribble makes the team significantly faster and his clinical finish on the goal showed a yet unseen shooting skill. His performance dropped significantly in the second half, though.

Luis Argudo (6) – The rookie had a good start, drawing a penalty kick and creating chances from the left side of the field. His movement was important to create space in the team’s offense and he also did solid defensive work.

Gyasi Zardes (7) – The striker showed good composure to convert the penalty kick and managed to score on his 150th MLS match. His movement was intense and he insistently tried to offer the midfielders an option up front, but he didn’t have many opportunities to score again.

Niko Hansen (6) – The winger came in for Santos with a little over 20 minutes to play and had a good opportunity to score after a corner kick, but his shot was blocked by a defender. In stoppage time, he made a dangerous runs, but shot wide.

Lalas Abubakar (6) – The defender was subbed in 10 minutes before the final whistle as the Crew wanted to holds its lead and made a crucial sliding tackle inside the penalty box in stoppage time.

Ricardo Clark (N/A) – The veteran entered the match in stoppage time and didn’t have time to do much.

Gregg Berhalter (6) – His team came into the game with the right mentality and imposed its will over Salt Lake in the first part of the opening half. After that, however, the team’s performance dropped and the Crew struggled to sustain its advantage against a team that didn’t show an impressive amount of firepower.