It was harder than many expected, but Columbus Crew SC retained the fourth place in the Eastern Conference with a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids at MAPFRE Stadium. It was a convincing performance from the Black & Gold, who could have gotten a more comfortable win against the Western Conference opponents.
Check how each Black & Gold player performed:
Zack Steffen (7) – It was a quiet night for the goalkeeper, who didn’t have much demanded by a pale Rapids offense, which forced him to just one save in the entire match. The odd play that led to the goal made his night worse than it could have been.
Harrison Afful (7) – The fullback was a constant presence in Crew SC’s offensive third during the entire game and unsurprisingly led the team in crosses with seven. Without much to worry about on the defensive end, Afful was comfortable to push forward and create chances.
Jonathan Mensah (7.5) – The Ghanaian has quietly become one of the best center backs in the entire league. He wasn’t beaten once in the entire game and outmuscled Niki Jackson for most of the second half as well as taking great care of the ball, with a 92.2 percent passing accuracy.
Josh Williams (7) – The veteran returned to the team with a solid performance and did a good job of preventing the few attempts from the Rapids, mostly because of his smart positioning. When the team had a one-man advantage, Williams tried to help on offense too. He also had a dangerous header near the end of the first half.
Milton Valenzuela (7.5) – It was probably one of the best games for the young Argentinean recently as he showed great maturity to identify the right moments to push forward and take advantage of the space he had. It was no surprise that he was involved in both goals.
Wil Trapp © (7) – The captain has a typically efficient performance, leading the team in both passes (84) and passing accuracy (92.9 percent). His smartness and precision were important to make the Crew create space and take advantage of the extra player on the field after Deklan Wynne was sent off.
Artur (6.5) – The Brazilian covered a lot of ground and took good care of the ball in the 66 minutes he stayed on the field. He looked gassed in the end of the match and left the field with three interceptions under his belt.
Pedro Santos (7) – The Portuguese was very unlucky to end the game without scoring a goal. Santos created several opportunities and fired a handful of dangerous shots, which were saved by Tim Howard or blocked by a defender. He also helped the team with a couple of important defensive runs in the final minutes.
Federico Higuain (8) – It was a night of Pipa at his best as the Argentinean was heavily involved in the game and played a pivotal role in both Crew SC goals, assisting Zardes with a magic pass in the first and beating Howard with a clinical finish in the second.
Justin Meram (6.5) – Meram was the least dangerous piece of Crew SC’s offensive quartet but that hardly means the Iraqi international played a bad game as he participated in the team’s first goal and combined pretty well with Valenzuela in the left side.
Gyasi Zardes (7) – The striker showed great composure to score Crew SC’s first goal. After that, he used his physical tools to create chances with runs in both wings, but Zardes had at least a couple of opportunities he could have converted.
Ricardo Clark (6.5) – The veteran came in with nearly 30 minutes to play and played a simple but efficient game, keeping Columbus’ midfield organized and compact until the final whistle.
Eduardo Sosa (6) – The Venezuelan seemed to have entered the game a few miles slower than this teammates as he turned the ball over twice on his first play, but after that he had a good run through the center of the field which almost resulted in the team’s third goal.
Niko Hansen (N/A) – The winger came in with a couple of minutes to play and didn’t even touch the ball.
Gregg Berhalter (7) – The Crew was an aggressive and organized team during the entire game. The victory should have happened by a wider margin, but it’s hard to blame the coach for the chances his team missed or for its naivety on Colorado’s goal.