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Game Grades: Crew SC vs. Houston Dynamo

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Check how each player fared in the team’s third-straight victory.

MLS: Houston Dynamo at Columbus Crew SC Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Crew SC had to battle until the end, but the team managed to get its third- straight victory as the Black & Gold relied on a late Gyasi Zardes’ goal to defeat the Houston Dynamo 1-0 at MAPFRE Stadium. It wasn’t a brilliant performance for the Crew, but the team got the job done at home and added three more precious points at home. Here is how each played performed against the Texans:

Zack Steffen (7) – The All-Star goalkeeper was extremely reliable when he was tested in the first half, even though most of the times he just had to deal with non-dangerous long-distance shots. In the second half, though, he came up big on a couple of crosses and on a point-blank shot from Andrew Wenger.

Harrison Afful (7.5) – The fullback was a solid offensive option and had a dangerous shot in the first half, but also had some defensive struggles with Romell Quioto. He was crucial to Crew SC’s victory with an impressive assist to Zardes’ game-winning goal.

Jonathan Mensah (6.5) – The Ghanaian had a quiet night, which is normally a good thing for a center back. Jonathan had two interceptions in the game and was always in control of Houston’s attackers.

Gaston Sauro (6) – The Argentinean seems close to his best form as he had a solid performance, highlighted by a team-high six interceptions. With the ball on his feet, Sauro wasn’t as effective, though, as he turned the ball over in dangerous spots a couple of times and exposed his team to counter attacks.

Milton Valenzuela (7) – It was the best performance for the young fullback in a while as he was solid defensively, recording three tackles (the most for the team), one interception and two clearances, and also combined with Santos, Grella and Meram for good plays in the offensive third. He was also the best passer of the entire game with an impressive 97.1 percent accuracy.

Wil Trapp © (6.5) – The captain’s presence was important to disrupt several of the Dynamo’s counter attack attempts due to his great positioning. He had a game-high 78 passes and connected 93.6 percent of them in an effective yet unspectacular distribution.

Artur (6.5) – The Brazilian played a decent match, winning some important balls in the center of the field and helping to protect Crew SC’s backline. He tried to push the team forward but couldn’t really find a way to be dangerous.

Pedro Santos (6.5) – The Portuguese was the most active player on Crew SC’s front line in the first half and nearly scored from outside the penalty box as his shot hit the post. He was very determined on the field, but at the same time seemed way too eager to score, which made him force some shots when they weren’t the best options.

Federico Higuain (5.5) – Pipa was discrete at best in the first half as he seemed a little slow when he tried to move the ball around the penalty box. His rhythm got better in the second half, when he managed to create a couple of chances, but the Argentinean also missed some good opportunities to score.

Mike Grella (5.5) – The veteran winger had a quiet first half as he spent time on both sides of the field. He started the second half in better form and featured a good combination play with Higuain, but should have done better when he got the rebound and fired a terrible shot.

Gyasi Zardes (6.5) – It was a curious performance for the Crew SC’s striker as he took 81 minutes to fire his first shot in the match. For most of the time, Zardes seemed a little disconnected and he put his continuity in the game in risk when he dove in the box trying to draw a penalty kick. In the final minutes, though, he showed great composure to score the game-winning goal.

Justin Meram (6.5) – The winger made his return to the club and just needed a few minutes to show how useful he can be for the team as he set Higuain and Zardes up for good chances. His rhythm decreased near the end, but his energy level was a promising first step.

Patrick Mullins (5.5) – The forward came in with just 15 minutes to play and wasn’t much involved in the team’s offense. His attempt to head the ball almost invalidated Zardes’ goal.

Edward Opoku (6.5) – The rookie is solidifying his spot in the rotation with good performances in limited time. It wasn’t different against the Dynamo. In just 11 minute, the winger created havoc on the Dynamo’s defense and drew what could have been a dangerous foul.

Gregg Berhalter (6.5) – In the first half, the Crew didn’t seem to know how to take advantage of Houston’s tired legs and while the team didn’t have the dominant performance many expected, it kept trying until the end and was rewarded by a late goal.