Columbus Crew SC and Orlando City entered their match on Saturday night with similar stories, as both have struggled mightily during 2019 campaign. For Columbus however, the result was more of the same, with another loss and another zero in the scoring column. With the most recent fifth defeat at MAPFRE Stadium this season, the Crew now has the most home losses in all of Major League Soccer.
The grades are in for the Black & Gold:
Jon Kempin (5) – The Columbus goalkeeper wasn’t all that busy, as only three shots found the target for Orlando. Two of them however, found the back of the net. City’s first goal beat Kempin on the near post, a disappointing tally to give up for sure. While the strike was well placed and with power, getting beat near post is a goal against every goalkeeper wants back. The second strike against was not Kempin’s fault as a porous turnover by the Crew attack, followed by non-existent defense were the culprits. Kempin had one recorded save in the 90 minutes.
Hector Jimenez (5) – It was a typical Jimenez workmanlike night, as he made consistent runs up and down the right flank. However, he was not overly meaningful on either side of the ball and unable to influence the match in any sort of rousing way.
Gaston Sauro (4.5) – The Argentinean once again struggled against OCSC, as he had a massive gaffe in the 28th minute, by almost heading the ball into his own net. On Orlando’s second goal of the match, Sauro looked lethargic and disinterested, failing to apply any pressure on Tesho Akindele, who slotted a beautiful strike from 21 yards out. The second goal was the nail in the Crew coffin.
Alex Crognale (5.5) – The central defender was clearing balls with his head, his foot and any other body part he could. At first glance, Crognale will be accused of getting beat by City’s Chris Mueller in the 41st minute, which led to the opening goal. However, he was only beat because he was attempting to cover for his teammate’s mistake, which I will get to later. Overall, Crognale was accountable and showed more effort than many of his teammates. He also earned a yellow card 82nd minute.
Waylon Francis (5) – He worked up and down the flank offensively, but was ultimately ineffective. The Costa Rican international was mediocre on the night, with minimal offensive presence and a minimal defensive impact.
David Guzman (5.5) – His in-swinging corners into the six-yard box are being read quite easily by defenses in recent matches, so despite the Crew’s 13 (four from Guzman) corner kick opportunities, none found the back of the net. The Mueller goal was due to he and Artur not man-marking the forward, but instead both were ball-watching and elected to collapse on Danilo Acosta, which freed up the City forward. Beyond that, Guzman attempted to be more offensive and creative in the attack, pushing deep into the Crew offensive third of the field.
Artur (5) – The young Brazilian looked more composed and energetic in the first half than he had in recent games. Though, he did often slow down the Crew attack with a slew of back passes, rather than switching the point of attack or sending through balls. As the game wore on, Artur began going down at the moment of contact, seeking cheap calls, which the ref was not buying.
Robinho (5.5) – His decision making with the ball at his feet has been questionable all season and we saw more of that in this game. Whether it was shooting from impossible angles or head-scratching choices with the ball, the winger is an enigma. He has flashes of brilliance, like his beautiful bicycle kick in 55th minute that made Orlando goalkeeper Brian Rowe fully extend to make a phenomenal save. In other moments, a simple through ball to an open teammate would suffice, but he elected to dribble into three defenders. The Brazilian is perplexing. He was subbed out in 61st minute.
Pedro Santos (5.5) – Santos has filled in admirably at the attacking midfield role for the injured Federico Higuain. His heat map is expansive and energy level is high. He sent in a beautiful ball during stoppage time of the first half, which almost led to a Crew goal. On the flip side, he seemed to be stripped of the ball often by Orlando’s defense. It was as if City had him figured out from the moment he touched the ball. Santos moved from the central midfield role to his customary right wing spot when Eduardo Sosa came in in the 61st minute. We did see Santos revert to his pre-2019 season wayss with a lot of embellishing and looking to the referee for calls, rather than playing through. He led the Crew in corner kicks taken with nine.
Luis Argudo (5.5) – It was a hit or miss match for Argudo, who brought energy and was very lively. He sent in a perfect ball in 73rd minute to an on-running JJ Williams, who couldn’t get his head on it. Then he followed that superb play up in the 74th minute with a pass to nobody in a yellow jersey, but instead directly to two purple kits.
J.J. Williams (6.5) – In the rookie’s first MLS start, he made his presence felt from the opening whistle. The Orlando defense made notice of him too, as Lamine Sane followed the imposing striker all over the 18-yard-box. Columbus sought long balls and crosses towards the rookie early. The big man showed much more movement off the ball and a solid work rate, as he made it a point to help defensively. He was the Crew’s most impactful player of the first half. He was removed in the 77th minute, tied for the team lead with three shots. Unfortunately, none of them hit the frame.
Eduardo Sosa (4) – The midfielder came on in the 61st minute, which is plenty of time to assert himself, but the 23-year-old failed to register a stat line or make any sort of meaningful impact.
Patrick Mullins (NA) – The MLS veteran was inserted in the 77th minute for Williams, but was ineffective.
Niko Hansen (NA) – Seeing field time for the first time in five weeks, Hansen didn’t register a stat of any kind. He replaced Luis Argudo in the 77th minute.
Caleb Porter (5.5) – Porter doesn’t have a lot to work with roster wise. Given the roster on-hand, Porter put the players in the best schematic formations possible. They held possession 58.5% of the time, had 10 shots and earned 13 corners. Ultimately though as the coach, you must fall on the sword when your team struggles. The biggest gripe is that Black & Gold just doesn’t seem to be playing with consistent effort or edge. Considering the type of hard-nosed coach Porter is, the minimum standard you would expect is a team that will go down swinging in losses. This club as it currently stands, minus a few players, seems to be losing with a whimper game after game. At the same time, coaches can’t score goals. It’s up to the players to finish plays.