Columbus Crew SC will be happy to not see Atlanta United again in the 2018 regular season. For the fourth time in as many Major League Soccer regular season games, the Black & Gold fell to the Five Stripes 3-1 on Sunday afternoon.
While the loss is never the ideal result, there were certainly some positives to take away from this match against the league leaders. Here is how each Crew SC player performed in the Peach State:
Zack Steffen (6) — It’s hard to rate a goalkeeper too high who allows three goals but there wasn’t much Steffen could do to keep Atlanta’s finishes out of the net. He made two saves and kept things organized but United put together some nice chances and converted.
Harrison Afful (6) — Afful was asked to do a lot of work down the right-hand side. He was the fullback that pushed forward more but still helped out defensively with two tackles and a team-high five interceptions. He still needs to make quicker decisions when he’s in and around the penalty box.
Jonathan Mensah (7) — The center back has been very good for the last year or so but Sunday night was not his best performance. He had a needless foul early and a poor pass that led to the opening goal. On the bright side, Jonathan did have eight clearances, which was best on the team, and was more active defensively in the second half.
Lalas Abubakar (6) — At this point, Crew SC fans should know what they’re getting from Abubakar. He’s fast and athletic but still young and learning the position at the professional level. He had three tackles and five clearances and took a smart professional foul on the night.
Hector Jimenez (6) — Jimenez got a rare start against the Five Stripes and did alright. By design, he was not nearly as involved offensively in this game with only 36 passes and two crosses. He was beat by Hector Villalba’s speed on the game-winning goal.
Wil Trapp © (7) — After a slow start, Trapp got into the game and was his usual self for Crew SC. He competed 89.5 percent of his team-high 57 passes and got the assist on Zardes’ goal.
Artur (6) — The Brazilian had a rather quiet night in the middle of the field, disappearing for stretches of the match. He did make five tackles, the most on the team, but could have contributed more offensively.
Pedro Santos (6) — There were moments on the night where Santos was very good, running at the Atlanta defense or creating something from out wide. But those moments didn’t happen enough and there was little attack down Crew SC’s left side.
Federico Higuain (6.5) — Coming back from an injury layoff, we still haven’t seen Pipa at his best. He only had 48 touches and two key passes, which is not enough in an open game like this one.
Edward Opoku (7) — In his first professional start, Opoku looked good getting up and down the right wing. But while there were good moments, there was also signs that the player is still a rookie, such as when he was late on getting the ball across to Zardes in front of goal.
Gyasi Zardes (8) — Yes, Zardes had the goal, and it was a nice goal, but he was also rather active in this game. Despite only 30 touches, Zardes was constantly making runs to keep the United backline under pressure and nearly had at least one more finish.
Justin Meram (6) — In just his second game back with the Black & Gold, Meram came off the bench with 20 minutes to play. He was active and involved in the play that should have seen Crew SC awarded a penalty kick, but also whiffed on a shot in the penalty box that would have been a dangerous attempt.
Patrick Mullins (6) — Like Meram, Mullins came in with 20 minutes to go. He was dangerous making runs but wasn’t involved enough with just seven touches of the ball.
Luis Argudo (N/A) — The rookie came in with just a few minutes left and did not have time to impact the match in the midfield.
Gregg Berhalter (7) — It’s a loss but Berhalter and his team can take some positives away from this game. Crew SC came out more aggressive in the second half and it worked with the equalizer. The team could have taken the lead on a couple of occasions and were unlucky not be awarded a penalty kick when tied at 1-1.