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Game Grades: Crew at Philadelphia Union

See how each player fared in the team’s disappointing first loss of the season in Philly.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Philadelphia Union Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Crew SC has its first setback of the 2019 Major League Soccer season as the shorthanded Black & Gold were taken down 3-0 by the Philadelphia Union at Talen Energy Stadium.

It was the first defeat under head coach Caleb Porter, who had to replace five players in the lineup due to international call-ups and injury. The result was obviously frustrating, but it was also the first chance to watch some players on the field in 2019, so let’s see how each of them performed.

Joe Bendik (5) – The former Orlando City goalkeeper played just his first match in a Crew uniform and conceded more goals than Zack Steffen did in the first three games combined. Even if he wasn’t entirely to blame on any of the three goals and even made a couple of good saves in the second half, it’s hard not to imagine the starter would have avoided at least one of them.

Harrison Afful (4) – Since the Ghanaian arrived in Columbus, his offensive production has outweighed his obvious defensive limitations. Sometimes, however, the balance is not favorable to the fullback and this was one of those nights. His bad positioning on the first goal left David Accam in a great spot to beat the Crew’s defense on the run and he turned the ball over easily on the second goal.

Jonathan Mensah (5) – The World Cup veteran looked confident on the ball, but, despite his three clearances, also displayed an uncharacteristic disconnection with Afful on the right side of the defense, which Accam mercilessly took advantage of.

Gaston Sauro (5) – The Argentinean got close to scoring from a corner kick for the third time this season, but his defensive performance was not so impressive. His connection with Jonathan seemed off and he was easily beaten by Accam on the second goal.

Hector Jimenez (5.5) – The veteran was arguably the most solid piece of Columbus’ backline in the match. Tasked with defending Ilsinho, Jimenez managed to keep the winger under control for a fair amount of the time. He wasn’t very active offensively, however.

Artur (4.5) – The Brazilian recovered from injury in time to be on the field, but didn’t perform at his usual level. The midfielder was less active than he commonly is on the defensive side of the ball and seemed a little hesitant when in possession.

Ricardo Clark (5) – The veteran filled in for Wil Trapp and tried to help the team buildup as the captain does, but his passing range wasn’t nearly as extensive as the starter’s. He led the team in interceptions, with three, but didn’t show great chemistry with Artur.

Pedro Santos (5) – The Portuguese had an active start, but his game collapsed as the rest of the team’s midway through the first half. To his credit, though, he had some dangerous crosses on set pieces and the usual high energy level on both ends of the ball.

Federico Higuain © (4.5) – Pipa wore the captain’s armband and started the game looking for the ball and trying to connect with his teammates up front. After he turned the ball over on the Union’s first goal, his rhythm dropped and his main contributions came in set pieces.

Robinho (4) – The Brazilian winger had a night to forget in his second start with the Crew as he repeatedly struggled to progress with the ball down the left flank. He also failed when he tried to clear the ball from the penalty box on the Union’s third goal.

Patrick Mullins (4) – The veteran striker got the start over JJ Williams but he was a victim of the team’s terrible offensive night and didn’t see much of the ball. His most noticeable action in the match was an inexplicable foul on the Crew’s attacking half that should have gotten him a yellow card.

JJ Williams (5) – The rookie striker had his first 35 minutes with the Crew and needed just five to have his first opportunity, which was deflected by a Union defender. He brought some energy to the field, but couldn’t really produce much.

Luis Argudo (5) – The second-year midfielder came in for Artur at the 65th minute and improved the team’s passing accuracy in the center of the field, but didn’t really change the course of the game.

Eduardo Sosa (N/A) – The Venezuelan played his first minutes this season after recovering from an ankle injury sustained in preseason but didn’t have enough time to impact the game, as the score was already set when he came in.

Caleb Porter (5) – His team prepared to face the Union’s diamond and really didn’t have an answer to the opponent’s unusual formation. It’s obviously hard to organize a team missing five important pieces and his players had a set of uncommon individual mistakes, especially in possession, but it seemed the Crew was never in position to even tie the game.