A tough afternoon for Columbus Crew SC as the headed to Canada for a date with the Montreal Impact. It was a tight contest throughout until Impact forward Maximiliano Urruti forced a turnover in the Crew defensive zone, finding Harry Novillo who capitalized on the opportunity to give the hosts the 1-0 win on opening day at Stade Saputo.
The Black & Gold haven’t won on the road since March 9 against the New England Revolution. Is it time to hit the panic button or will things iron themselves out? Here are our grades for Saturday afternoon’s game in Montreal:
Zack Steffen (7): The Columbus goalkeeper was dependable when called upon, especially late in the game. The lone goal is difficult to pin on him, most ‘keepers aren’t going to save shots inside the 18-yard box at close range. Steffen shined late in the game, stopping dangerous shots from Sebastian Taider and Daniel Lovitz.
Hector Jimenez (5.5): It was a fine performance for the outside back as he once again stepped in for the injured Harrison Afful. He connected on a couple of passes, generated good scoring opportunities and played well defensively.
Jonathan Mensah (5): It wasn’t a great day for the center back. He was responsible for a critical turnover in the defensive third that led to the game-winning goal for Montreal. He will have to shake this performance off and move on to the Portland Timbers next week.
Josh Williams (5): Like his partner, Williams had a difficult game on Saturday afternoon. He was caught out of position a few times and didn’t play up to his potential.
Waylon Francis (6): The Costa Rican defender had the best game of the back four, combining with the midfield and forwards to advance the ball down the pitch. He also never turned the ball over in dangerous situations.
Artur (5): It was a very pedestrian performance from the midfielder. Instead of advancing the ball up the field, the Brazilian opted to pass laterally or backward. It’s difficult to switch the point of attack if your central midfielder can’t advance the ball up the pitch.
Wil Trapp (5): It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t good. Trapp didn’t do anything poorly but didn’t do anything noteworthy either.
Pedro Santos (5): Santos had a few good attacking runs but was way to slow in the build-up and allowed Montreal to catch up. An errant shot that didn’t bend as the winger cut into the right side of the 18-yard-box about sums up the afternoon for the Crew.
Federico Higuain (6): Higuain attempted to get the offense going but the rest of his teammate couldn’t combine with the maestro. Had he converted on a couple of missed chances from Zardes, Pipa could have a difference in this game.
Robinho (7): The Brazilian winger continues to impress and make the most of his opportunities. The 24 year old looked dangerous in the attacking area and had one chance that could have easily turned into a goal. It is worth noting that Porter rewarded the winger for his performance, opting to leave him on a bit longer when Meram relieved Santos in the 58th minute.
Gyasi Zardes (6): A couple of close opportunities for the striker but he just couldn’t find the back of the net. Zardes’ best chance came in the 39th minute when a touch went wide right of the Montreal goal.
Justin Meram (5): Relieving Santos in the 58th minute, Meram had a couple of tough breaks on offense. I don’t think he’s done enough to warrant putting himself back in the First 11 just yet.
Niko Hansen (N/A): It was a whirlwind appearance for Hansen. He came into the game in the 74th minute as a winger and played right back just 12 minutes later.
Patrick Mullins (N/A): Looking to equalize, Mullins entered the game with four minutes plus stoppage time. He had a limited amount of touches but couldn’t aid Columbus in capturing the equalizing goal.
Caleb Porter (6): The Crew had a game plan in place, that was evident, but couldn’t execute. This game could have just as easily swung the way of the Black & Gold.