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Game Grades: Crew vs. FC Dallas

See how each player performed during the team’s second win of 2019.

MLS: FC Dallas at Columbus Crew SC Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Crew SC earned its second win of the 2019 Major League Soccer season. The Black & Gold defeated FC Dallas 1-0 for the first win of the season at MAPFRE Stadium. The lone goal came via a Gaston Sauro header from a Pedro Santos corner kick in the 10th minute.

Through three games, Crew SC sit atop of the MLS Eastern Conference with seven points out of a possible nine. Here are our individual player grades for the performance:

Zack Steffen (8): The keeper had a relatively slow day, forced to make only two saves on the afternoon. However, he answered when Columbus needed him the most. The shot stopper made an excellent one-on-one save against Dallas’s Michael Barrios in the second half, keeping the result as it stood.

Harrison Afful (6): Followed up a solid performance in New England with a more decent one. He constantly ran up and down the right side to help flow the offense, but lacked quality passing in the final third. His early cross which went out of bounds for a corner kick led to the only goal on the afternoon.

Johnathan Mensah (8): Johnathan was a wall in front of Steffen for the entire game. He had a team-high seven clearances on the day and a few crucial ones that happened to be on Dallas’ closest opportunities.

Gaston Sauro (8): The Argentinian added another goal to his season total, a header from Santos in the opening minutes of the game. All of those who predicted that Sauro would be level on goals with Zardes three games into the season are now having the last laugh.

Waylon Francis (7): A solid performance following up the same in last week’s outing against New England. The fullback kept up his forward runs and had quite the defensive showing as well. He helped open up Robinho and make his job slightly easier.

Artur (5): The midfielder had an uninspiring performance. He was solid when he had the ball at his feet, but those times were few and far in between.

Wil Trapp © (5): Unfortunately, this is a game that the captain will be in a rush to forget. He had a poor giveaway which could have led to a Dallas equalizer. His recovery was nice, although if not for Steffen’s brilliance, we may be looking at this game differently.

Pedro Santos (7): The winger assisted on the lone goal of the game from a corner kick. While his passing could have used a little bit of work, Santos had two quality shots on his preferred left foot that were saved by the FC Dallas goalkeeper.

Federico Higuain (7.5) - A traditional performance from the maestro. He was solid in all areas of the game. Higuain’s passing was outstanding (per usual) and he was masterful in creating opportunities. He had a total of two key passes, both of which almost led to Columbus goals.

Robinho (7) - Making his starting debut for the Crew, Robinho had the stereotypical flair that Brazilian wingers traditionally have. Great composure on the ball, a few good take-ons and a backheel pass to add in. The winger will surely see much more of the field under Porter.

Gyasi Zardes (6) - The Columbus talisman had little opportunities to showcase his finishing ability. His few touches were quickly closed in on by the Dallas centerback duo, a tip of the hat more so to them.

Justin Meram (N/A) - The winger was substituted on for Santos after taking a few knocks throughout the second half. While on for over 10 minutes, the winger saw too little of the ball to have a solidified rating.

Ricardo Clark (N/A) - Came on as a substitute for Artur in the dying minutes of stoppage time. A nice cameo to help see out the game.

Caleb Porter (9) - Sticking to the plan is something that Porter has been emphasizing coming into the game. Starting Robinho was a tactic questioned by some, although it seemed that the decision paid dividends. He greatly minimized Dallas’s chances throughout and was able to minimize their dominating possession percentage they had obtained through their first two games. Through three games, Columbus finds themselves sitting at the top of the Eastern Conference at seven points and two consecutive clean sheets, on top of riding a 264 minute shutout streak. Not too shabby for the new guy in charge.