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Game Grades: Crew vs. D.C. United

The Black & Gold fell again at home. How did the players perform?

MLS: D.C. United at Columbus Crew SC Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in over a year, Columbus Crew SC lost a third straight game on Wednesday night, falling to D.C. United 1-0 on a first half Wayne Rooney free kick goal. The loss marks the first back-to-back defeats for the Black & Gold at MAPFRE Stadium since losing the 2015 MLS Cup Final and the home opener of the 2016 season. It was also D.C.’s first win in Columbus since 2007.

Despite dominating the possession and chances in the second half — the Crew had 44 crosses for the game — the Black & Gold weren’t able to find the net for the third time this season. How did the players perform in the defeat? Better than you might think.

Zack Steffen (7): The Crew goalkeeper did what he was asked to do for the part on Wednesday night. Steffen made five saves and the one goal he allowed was from a perfectly placed free kick. You can’t ask for much more from the U.S. Men’s National Team goalkeeper.

Hector Jimenez (6.5): With the Crew pushing for an equalizer for the better part of the game, both fullbacks were high up the field looking to get the ball into the penalty box. Jimenez managed seven crosses, but only one found its target. He did have two shots, one of which was saved by Bill Hamid.

Jonathan Mensah (7): When D.C. had its period of dominance in the first half around the lone goal, Jonathan was solid for his side, registering a team-high four clearances and blocked two shots.

Josh Williams (5): After not starting against the Portland Timbers on Saturday, the center back came out and did not play his best. He gave up the foul at the top of the box — something the Crew knew they couldn’t do against United — which led to Rooney’s goal and almost conceded another when stepping too early to another attacker while marking the English forward.

Waylon Francis (7): Like Jimenez, Francis was mostly involved in the attack this game but did make some important plays defensively, leading the team with four interceptions. None of his four crosses found their target, although that was not always his fault.

Artur (6.5): Patrolling the midfield, Artur did fine with three tackles and two interceptions. Offensively, which is where the Black & Gold needed their central midfielder, he had three key passes and played several nice long balls. Now if the Columbus coaches can get him to shoot more frequently...

Wil Trapp (7): The Crew captain was on the ball a lot and consistently looked to help Columbus create. Trapp was important in recycling the ball and keeping play moving in a more advanced role with his side trailing.

Justin Meram (6): Starting a game for the first time since early March, Meram made an impact for the Crew but still doesn’t look quite like the player that left the club after 2017. He completed nearly 85% of his passes but only managed two shots and was less inclined to take on defenders than Black & Gold fans remember him.

Pedro Santos (8): The Portuguese winger continued his productive season by being the best player on the filed for the Crew against United. He was second on the team in touches (85) and led the Black & Gold in shots (6), shots on goal (2) and key passes (4). Santos nearly registered an assist with a great through pass to Higuain but the No. 10 could not finish.

Federico Higuain (6): The Crew’s midfield maestro was active but not always productive. He was impactful when helping to get the ball wide but of his four shots, only one was on target. He had arguably the best effort of the game after a through pass from Santos but elected to chip his shot instead of placing it low in the corner.

Gyasi Zardes (5.5): The Crew’s striker is having trouble. Whether it’s because he’s not getting on the end of crosses or his teammates aren’t finding him is the major question but he had only 18 touches in the game and one shot. Something is not right there when a team is pushing like Columbus was in the second half.

Robinho (5.5): The Brazilian winger came on for Meram in the 76th minute but did little to impact the game. He managed one shot and two crosses during his time on the pitch.

Patrick Mullins (N/A): Mullins was brought on for Artur in the 83rd minute while the Crew was looking for a goal but the former United forward couldn’t do much against his old team. He had just three touches in just over seven minutes of play.

Caleb Porter (6): It’s frustrating to be the Crew head coach right now. His team continues to create chance after chance, and good ones too, but simply cannot finish. He admitted it’s becoming “the same old story” with the Black & Gold offensively right now. Porter believes in his style of play and the team does too so they will continue to create chances with the faith that the goals are coming.