Columbus Crew SC continued the team’s preseason in the Carolina Challenge Cup taking on the hosts, Charleston Battery. In the team’s first match, the Black & Gold drew against Major League Soccer rival Chicago Fire. Charleston Battery lost 2-1 to MLS newcomer, FC Cincinnati. On Saturday, the two teams drew 1-1.
It was a shaky first half for the Crew, who possessed the ball well but failed to create many opportunities in the final third. The Black & Gold conceded a goal in the 24th minute off of a poorly defended corner. The highlight for Columbus came in stoppage time as a pass from Maloney found a streaking Opoku who crossed it into Robinho for the tying goal.
The second half was better for the Crew, as the team did a better job of dictating the game.
Jon Kempin (6.5) - The goalkeeper had a solid first half despite conceding a goal. He did well to come off his line and clear a dangerous opportunity after a weak pass from Abubakar. Near the end of the game, he made a great save coming off his line to save the tie for Columbus.
Connor Maloney (7) - Columbus’ third-year fullback was all over the pitch during the match, creating a lot of opportunities on the attack and was very solid defensively. His pass to Opoku helped set up the tying goal in stoppage time of the first half.
Josh Williams (5.5) - Williams had an average outing in his 30 minute shift. It is to be expected as he is still coming back from injury and getting his feet under him. He had a few bright moments in distributing the ball from the back but overall was still a work in progress.
Lalas Abubakar (5) - It was a tough opening half for the center back. Defensively he didn’t seem to have much awareness for much of the opening 45 minutes. Abubakar had a poor pass that was saved by Kempin to avoid a goal and was beat in the air for Charleston’s opening goal off the corner. He did improve in the second half but will continue to have to work on his positional awareness to secure his spot in the starting 11.
Aboubacar Keita (6) - The Crew’s Homegrown player made his Carolina Challenge Cup debut and was solid defensively through the game, holding Charleston’s wingers at bay while playing out of position at left. He did commit a few fouls throughout the game. Keita will need to work on his composure as he became visibly frustrated on several occasions.
Robinho (8) - The Brazilian winger was clearly the best player on the pitch for Columbus in the game. He scored the tying goal at the end of the first half and was all over the field, finding his teammates and getting on the end of scoring opportunities. The winger often went down easily when challenged and his strength on the ball will be something he can work on.
Ricardo Clark (7) - Clark had a very solid match, dictating the pace of play and distributing the ball all over the pitch from the midfield. He was strong defensively and had a number of offensive opportunities in his 85 minutes.
Luis Argudo (6.5) - Argudo took some time to settle into the game, starting out a little sloppy in the opening 20 minutes. Once he settled in, he did a great job moving all over the field and distributing the ball both from the No. 6 position in the first half and the No. 10 position in the second. He had several attacking opportunities and came close to scoring in the 72nd.
Niko Hansen (5.5) - Hansen didn’t do much during his 38 minutes of play. The winger moved well off the ball and was solid in pressing opposing players. He unfortunately lacked many opportunities to create offensively before being subbed off.
Eduardo Sosa (6.5) - Columbus’ attacking midfielder was very lively in his only half of play, creating a number of the Crew’s attacking opportunities over the opening 45 minutes. He did have some heavily hit balls, which he will have to improve on as the season progresses.
Patrick Mullins (5.5) - Mullins had an uneventful night. The forward had one shot which was blocked but failed to create anything during his 61-minute shift. Defensively he did a solid job of pressing the Charleston back line.
Alex Crognale (6) - Crognale came on for Williams in the 30th minute. He was solid defensively, winning headers and making good decisions.
Edward Opoku (7) - Opoku was his typical energetic self, moving all over the pitch. The highlight of his game was putting in a good ball inside the penalty box to Robinho for the tying goal in stoppage time of the first half. Opoku also almost had a goal of his own in the 84th minute off a ball from Keita.
Sebastian Berhalter (5.5) - Berhalter came in at halftime and had some good and poor moments. His passing and decision making left something to be desired at times. The Academy player did show flashed of potential but you can certainly tell he has things to work on before making a jump to the first team.
J.J. Williams (5.5) - The rookie forward came into the game in the 61st minute and made his presence known early on clearing a ball off a corner in the 66th. Offensively, Williams missed a wide open net, hitting the ball off the crossbar late in the match. He finished the night with three shots.
Aiden Morris (N/A) - Another Academy player, Morris came on in the 85th minute and was able to make a few runs in the attack but didn’t have time to do much.
Caleb Porter (6.5) - Porter did a good job of getting a lot of the reserves involved in this game, but but his side was largely outplayed in the first half. He seemed to get his team to make adjustments in the second half as they did a much better job of dictating play and creating opportunities in the final third.