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Game Grades: Crew vs. New York Red Bulls

Check out how each Black & Gold player performed at the team’s season opener.

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Columbus Crew SC Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Crew SC’s 2019 Major League Soccer season opener didn’t go the way most fans expected as the Black & Gold came from behind to tie 1-1 with the New York Red Bulls reserves at MAPFRE Stadium and collect just one point in the game.

The Crew dominated most of the match, but couldn’t manage to get its first win in front of its fans. See how each player fared in the first official match of 2019:

Zack Steffen (7) – The goalkeeper couldn’t do much to avoid the Red Bulls’ goal and recorded just four saves in the entire match, none of them really difficult. He did fine when he needed to get out of the goal or use his feet too.

Harrison Afful (6) – The fullback didn’t start the match in good shape and his bad positioning costed the team a goal. Even though his defensive game didn’t improve during the match, he stepped up offensively after he fired a dangerous long-distance shot near the end of the first half. The Ghanaian got closer to his usual level and had one of the best chances to score the game-winning goal, but was stopped by Luis Robles.

Jonathan Mensah (6.5) – The veteran had a solid performance on the first game of the season, helping the team with some important interceptions near or inside the penalty box and a couple of huge defensive plays that stopped what could be dangerous Red Bulls’ counter attacks.

Gaston Sauro (7) – The Argentinean was very reliable on his defensive work, recoding two tackles and two clearances, and scored in a very important moment of the match, equalizing the game right before halftime. The good news is that it seems he could still get a lot better the most he plays.

Waylon Francis (6.5) – The Costa Rican was probably Crew’s most effective offensive piece in the first half, pushing forward constantly down the left side, but his crosses weren’t very accurate. His level dropped a little bit at the second half, when the Crew started pushing more from the right side.

Wil Trapp © (5.5) – The captain seems to be still adjusting to his new role in Porter’s system and struggled at times on both sides of the ball. On defense, he was exposed a couple of times and on offense he seemed less confident on the ball, even if his passing accuracy was as high as usual.

Artur (5.5) – The Brazilian brought a lot of energy to the game and won some important balls, especially at the start of the match, recording a team-high four tackles. He wasn’t at his best with his passing, though, making uncommon mistakes and turning the ball over in dangerous spots at times.

Pedro Santos (5) – The Portuguese seemed more confident after scoring in preseason, but struggled to connect with his teammates on the offensive end with a subpar passing rate. He fired a couple of dangerous shots during the second half, but wasn’t really effective for most of the match.

Federico Higuain (6.5) – The Argentinean had his ups and downs during the match, switching from very active moments to times when he was barely noticed on the field. He showed glimpses of his greatness and when that happened, the team had its best chances. Pipa also had a great deliver on the corner kick that ended on Sauro’s goal.

Justin Meram (5) – The winger quickly regained his chemistry with Francis as the duo combined for some good plays down the left side, but his overall production was very little, despite of some good runs. He was taken off near the end of the second half.

Gyasi Zardes (5.5) – The striker insistently tried to break the Red Bulls’ backline with his runs, but was often caught on offside. It was a weird night for him overall as neither the wingers of the fullbacks managed to connect well with Zardes. He was half a second late to tap in a rebound from Robles right before the final whistle.

Robinho (6) – The Brazilian winger came in with 15 minutes to play and had a couple of dangerous runs down the left side, but couldn’t connect the final pass.

Caleb Porter (6) – His team was clearly the most dominant side on the field and controlled the game for the most part, but the group failed to transform such domination into a lead despite playing against the Red Bulls’ reserves. The coach stuck to his system until the end and his decision to make just one substitution was intriguing, but it was just his first official match and there’s probably a lot he’s still implementing.