Columbus Crew SC seems to have put its recent bad stretch of form in the past as the Black & Gold secured a 3-2 road win against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday to celebrate its second-straight MLS victory.
The Red Bulls have been one of the most organized MLS teams for a while now and the road victory demanded great team effort and discipline to follow head coach Caleb Porter’s game plan in detail.
It was a great team win and here’s how each played fared in the match:
Eloy Room (7) – The goalkeeper made just his second start with the Crew and he had a reasonably quiet night as he had to make a single save during the game. His distribution wasn’t really tested as the team insisted in playing long, but his communication with the defenders seems to be improving quickly.
Harrison Afful (6.5) – The right back had a rough start to the game as he made multiple defensive mistakes which put the team at risk in the first minutes of the contest. He made up for that with a crucial interception at the end of the match that avoided a Bradley Wright-Phillips finish and a few other important defensive plays.
Alex Crognale (7) – The towering center back was solid for the most part of the match, but either him or Abubacar should certainly have cleared the ball that found Brian White’s head on the Red Bulls’ first goal. Crognale had a busy night with a team-high seven clearances, but couldn’t connect many of his long passes attempts.
Aboubacar Keita (6.5) – The 19-year-old defender held his own for most of the time, but he made mistakes on some big plays. First, he let White run behind his back to score the hosts’ first goal. Later, he failed to clear a long pass from Wright-Phillips, but saw Afful cover for him. The potential is clearly there, though, and this match was a good test for the young center back
Hector Jimenez (7.5) – The veteran was arguably the steadiest piece of the Crew’s backline as he didn’t have much trouble defending against the Red Bulls’ offense, registering five clearances and even found time to push forward and fire a dangerous shot at the end of the first half.
Wil Trapp © (6.5) – With the team playing in more of a direct style, the captain saw the ball way less often than usual but still did a fine job in keeping possession and connecting passes as he led the team with a 86.4 percent efficiency rate on his 22 attempts. He left the game at halftime.
Artur (7.5) – The Brazilian was instrumental in protecting the Crew’s backline with two tackles, two interception and three clearances and helping the team in sustaining the Red Bulls’ pressure. He also had a good recovery in the first half which led to a dangerous shot off the post.
Luis Argudo (7.5) – It was a weird night for Argudo as he was involved in four goals in both positive and negative ways, as he scored one and assisted in another for the Crew but also lost possession and pulled down Daniel Royer inside the penalty box in the plays that generated the Red Bulls’ goals.
Pedro Santos (9) – The Portuguese winger played possibly his best match in a Black & Gold uniform. In addition to scoring his first brace for the team, Santos also was its offensive centerpiece, connecting good passes and creating dangerous chances for his teammates. His movement was very interesting, especially in moments in which he switched spots with Argudo.
David Accam (5) – The Ghanaian seemed disconnected from his offensive peers as he was nowhere to be found on one of the Crew’s best offensive performances of the year. After registering just 13 touches in the entire first half, the winger was taken off at halftime.
Gyasi Zardes (8.5) – The striker had to play a completely different game due to the team’s unusual strategy and he didn’t shy away from it, playing a key role in the victory. Zardes was more of a facilitator in Columbus’ offense and he played that role brilliantly with great passes and smart movement which had him involved in two of the team’s three goals.
David Guzman (6.5) – The Costa Rican came in for Trapp at halftime and helped Artur in dominating the midfield with his usual energy, hard work and efficient distribution.
Luis Diaz (6) – The winger played the final 45 minutes and tried to use his speed to create problems to New York’s defense. It worked in some occasions, but not in other.
Romario Williams (6.5) – The forward came in during the second half and did a good job in helping the team to keep possession up top and also in creating problems to the opponents with some runs.
Caleb Porter (8) – The head coach’s game plan, in which the team worked on tirelessly during the week, paid off in great fashion as the Crew did exactly what he wanted and kept the Red Bulls under control for most of the game and also create more than enough goal scoring opportunities. The goals the Black & Gold conceded were more products of individual mistakes than of flaws in the system, which is somewhat understandable considering the number of players the team missed.