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Game Grades: Crew vs. FC Cincinnati

Check how each player fared in the team’s last preseason game.

MLS: Carolina Challenge Cup-Columbus Crew at FC Cincinnati Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Crew SC ended preseason in the best possible way as the Black & Gold completely dominated Ohio rivals FC Cincinnati to record a 3-0 victory over the Major League Soccer expansion team on the final day of the 2019 Carolina Challenge Cup at the MUSC Health Stadium, in Charleston, South Carolina.

It was a great match from the Crew from start to finish, so join us to see how each player performed:

Zack Steffen (7) – The goalkeeper was more of a spectator of the match given the Crew’s domination. Except from a header that hit his right post, Steffen wasn’t bothered all night. He did well when he had to use his feet.

Hector Jimenez (7) – The veteran was called upon to start and did a fine job, especially keeping things under control on the defensive end. He also managed to move forward when he had a chance and he played the ball for Zardes to score his second goal.

Jonathan Mensah (7) – The Ghanaian was solid for most of the night with good positioning and reading of FC Cincinnati’s offense. On his only bad moment he was caught out of position once in the first half and needed to foul Fanendo Adi on the edge of the penalty box.

Gaston Sauro (7.5) – The Argentinean seems to have solidified his spot in the starting lineup with another positive performance. Sauro did a good job on matching Adi’s physicality and even rushed forward a couple of times to help on offense.

Waylon Francis (7) – The left back got to the end line quite a few times and connected well with Meram on a few occasions, but wasn’t as dangerous as last week against the Chicago Fire. Defensively he didn’t have much trouble with Alvas Powell.

Wil Trapp © (8) – Much of the team’s dominance was helped by the captain’s intelligent ball distribution. Trapp is playing in a different role when compared to the one he had in Gregg Berhalter’s system, playing further up on the field, and he seems to be adjusting well to it.

Artur (7.5) – The Brazilian was a solid presence in the center of the field and he did nice and important jobs on helping the team to circulate the ball and on winning second balls and retaining possession.

Pedro Santos (8.5) – It was easily the best match by the Portuguese winger in a while. Santos was always dangerous on the right flank and his quick pass to Higuain set up the team’s first goal. In the second half, he scored the most beautiful goal of the night with a curled shot that hit the post before going in.

Federico Higuain (8) – The veteran displayed his usual vision and connected important passes to his teammates. Pipa assisted on Zardes’ first goal and almost set the striker up for another one with a cross/shot that was inches wide. After Roland Lamah’s exit, he found more space to operate and created chances from the wings as well.

Justin Meram (7) – The winger showed good chemistry with Francis on the left side and made some interesting runs in the center of the field both with and without the ball. He could have scored after a play from Santos, but shot the ball right at Kendall Waston.

Gyasi Zardes (9) – The striker was constant trouble to FC Cincinnati’s backline with smart movement and huge presence inside the penalty box. He scored two goals with clinical finishes and could have scored two more.

Harrison Afful (7) – The Ghanaian played for the final 30 minutes of the match and brought some good energy to the field. He combined with Santos for some runs on the right side and managed to explore the space pretty well even if his crosses didn’t find his teammates.

Robinho (6.5) – The Brazilian winger came in for Meram and tried to create chances with some runs on left side, but the game had already slowed down when he was subbed in.

Caleb Porter (8.5) – His team’s start was fantastic as the Crew easily dominated FC Cincinnati in the first minutes of the game and suffocated the opponent with high press at the right times. He seems to be inserting his playing concepts pretty quickly and efficiently and next week’s season opener will be a great test for them.