Columbus Crew SC earned its first victory at the 2019 Major League Soccer season as the Black & Gold took down the New England Revolution 2-0 at the Gillette Stadium, in Foxborough, Massachusetts, propelled by a brace from striker Gyasi Zardes and a penalty kick save of goalkeeper Zack Steffen.
Overall, it was a solid team effort for the club’s first road game of the season, but here are our individual grades for the performance:
Zack Steffen (9) – After a discrete performance in the season opener, the goalkeeper showed his importance to the team once again by denying Diego Fagundez with huge saves on both a penalty kick and a free kick in the second half. If that wasn’t enough, he also connected a brilliant long pass that set Jimenez up to assist Zardes on the team’s second goal.
Harrison Afful (7.5) – The fullback had a solid defensive performance, protecting the right side of the Crew’s backline and not letting any space for New England. His forward runs, even if less frequent than usual, were just enough to hold Edgar Castillo back.
Jonathan Mensah (8) – The Ghanaian was a stud in the penalty box, controlling New England’s offense and relieving the pressure with three clearances. On top of that, he was also the team’s best passer, connecting north of 95 percent of his attempts.
Gaston Sauro (8) – The Argentinean had another very solid match and was a beast leading the team in both tackles and clearances, with five in each category. His great performance was almost stained by his naïve decision to put his hands on Wilfried Zahibo in a situation that represented no danger to the team, but Steffen’s penalty kick save avoided it.
Waylon Francis (7) – The Costa Rican international was shier than usual on offense, pushing forward just in specific moments of the match. But he also had a quietly effective defensive performance, recording three tackles, three interceptions and three clearances.
Artur (7.5) – The Brazilian recorded a team-high five tackles and was often on the ball, helping on the team’s build up. Artur connected a couple of very dangerous long passes which generated chances, but also turned the ball over in dangerous spots a few times.
Wil Trapp © (7.5) – It was an interesting match from the captain, who had sort of a hybrid role when in possession, eventually splitting the center backs, as he did during his time under Gregg Berhalter, or moving forward a bit in the double-pivot system. He was the team’s most active passer, sending the ball to a teammate a whopping 101 times, and did a fine job on defense too.
Pedro Santos (8) – The Portuguese had a very promising start to the match, getting very involved on the team’s offense and even dropping deep to get the ball from the defenders. His cross to Zardes’ first goal was very precise. He couldn’t keep the same level in second half, but was still important due to the support he provided on defense.
Federico Higuain (7.5) – Pipa wasn’t the crafty playmaker Crew fans are used to seeing, but he played an important role in dictating the team’s pace in possession. He completed 74 passes, just behind Trapp’s 101, and created a good opportunity on the second half out of nowhere.
Justin Meram (6) – The Iraqi international was probably the only player to perform below the team’s standard in Foxborough. Meram struggled to continue plays, be it not connecting to his teammates or failing to dribble the ball, and was dispossessed way too often.
Gyasi Zardes (9) – Zardes was quiet for a good part of the match, but when the Crew needed him, was there to send the ball into the back of the net and score in two important moments in the game. Near the end, he played a pivotal role in holding the ball up front and running the clock.
Robinho (6.5) – The Brazilian winger tried to bring some pace and counter-attacking punch to the team in the final minutes, but didn’t really manage to create chances. He had a good opportunity by picking up a ball that rebounded from Brad Knighton, but failed to chip it over the goalkeeper.
Hector Jimenez (7) – The veteran came in just four minutes before the final whistle, but still found time to place a nice and smart assist to Zardes for the team’s second goal.
Caleb Porter (8) – His team clearly had a game plan and executed it very well. The victory was obviously earned in good part due to great individual performances of Steffen and Zardes, but Porter seems to be managing to get the most of his players in very short time. The team also showed some interesting variation in the buildup, eventually switching from the double pivot in midfield to a line of three players in the back, and that could be helpful going forward.
Who do you was the best player for the Crew tonight?
Man of the Match:
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