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Game Grades: Crew vs Seattle Sounders

In a nail biter, the Crew fall to the Sounders.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Columbus Crew SC Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

It was the 12th different lineup in as many games for Columbus Crew SC on Saturday against the Seattle Sounders, but the same old struggles persisted. The Black & Gold’s inability to score during the run of play led to a 2-1 loss versus Seattle at MAPFRE Stadium. The opening half saw loads of energy and scoring chances for Columbus. However, clumsy and unfortunate miscues spoiled what was overall a very solid game for coach Caleb Porter’s squad.

In what continues to be one of the strangest seasons in Crew history, Columbus continues to be snake bitten to earn a positive result. Despite the heartbreaking loss, the grades aren’t all bad. See how the boys in the banana kits graded out.

Joe Bendik (5.5) – Bendik made a massive save in the 10th minute on a wide-open breakaway shot by Seattle. He also distributed well out of the back the few times he touched the ball. Neither of the goals against were any fault of his own. Bendik did have an ill-advised misreading of a ball in the second half that should have been easily cleaned up. He finished the match with two saves on four shots against.

Harrison Afful (6) – The King brought his normal high-level activity up and down the right flank. His understated play in difficult moments where others would panic is impressive. He was calm, cool and collected on the ball when pinched against the sidelines and multiple defenders surrounding him. The same could be said with the ball at his feet near his own goal and no outlet pass available. Unfortunately, his play didn’t garner much in terms of converted chances, but overall the Ghanaian put in the type of shift you would expect from the longtime Crew player.

Josh Williams (5) – Williams exited the match in the 63rd minute after a relatively quiet night. Often times for a center back, the quieter the night, the better. Williams concluded the game with one clearance and one tackle. He was subbed off due to a minor injury issue, the extent of which is unknown.

Gaston Sauro (5.5) – The Argentinian center back made his presence known to the Sounders attackers often. He amassed three interceptions and four clearances. Sauro made his way into the attack as much as possible, particularly towards the end of the match.

Waylon Francis (5) – Francis was heavily involved in the attack throughout the match, but especially during the first half. He and his outside back counterpart, Afful, created depth and width for the Crew attack. His most dangerous opportunity came in the first half where he collected the ball on the left flank and sent in a shot/cross that went harmlessly out of bounds.

David Guzman (5.5) – It was another Jekyll and Hyde performance for the Costa Rican. He dished out several wonderful through balls and connected often with subtle passes that led to scoring opportunities. Then he left us all scratching our heads with shot after shot that went sailing wildly over the crossbar. A simple form correction of keeping his body over the ball would have remedied these poor shots. Guzman also fouled Nicolas Lidero in the penalty box to give Seattle the game-tying penalty kick, which was converted. He looked fatigued throughout most of the second half, collapsing to the ground in exhaustion after the final whistle.

Artur (5.5) – The Brazilian hit the reset button often, sending back passes to his backline and goalkeeper when his team was under pressure. His heat map showed activity all over the field. Artur showed some fatigue towards midway point of second half, but seemed to find a last gasp second wind in the game’s final moments. His pass ignited the offense to come within feet of tying the game up.

Luis Argudo (6.5) – Argudo was the man of the match for me. It was his second start in three games and he came out with energy right from the opening whistle. He dished a pass to JJ Williams in the third minute that was a dangerous opportunity. That play was an omen of positive things to come for the young winger. His attempted bicycle kick in the games later minutes would have been a phenomenal way to open up his MLS goal account. A sloppy foul at the top of the Sounders’ penalty box almost led to another goal, but the free kick glanced off the crossbar. Argudo collected six recovery balls and attempted two shots.

Pedro Santos (6) – The Portuguese midfielder earned a penalty kick then capitalized from the spot, breaking the Crew’s 313-minute goalless streak. Santos was all over the field. He hustled, he played defense, he gave it his all through the match’s entirety. We even saw him minus one in the fouls committed to fouls suffered equation. Santos has been one of the most fouled players in the league, Saturday however saw him commit two fouls, as opposed to one suffered. He had two interceptions in the game as well.

Hector Jimenez (5.5) – The Jack of all trades was named captain for the match and found himself slotted as a right midfielder. As per usual, Jimenez put in the effort, pushed into the attack and worked hard defensively. He also covered a lot of ground defensively, which allowed Harrison Afful to bomb up the flank all night. His befuddled tone after the match, as to why the team can’t muster a result in recent times spoke volumes of the frustration level being felt by players.

JJ Williams (4.5) – In the rookie’s third consecutive start of the season, his work rate was inconsistent and even non-existent at times. Yes, he is still learning how to play at the professional level, but work rate and effort are imperative for a lone forward to be impactful. His lone shot on goal came in the early minutes of the match, but it was a slow roller from his left foot that left much to be desired. As to be expected, young players are going to have their up and down games. This was certainly a down game for the big fella.

Alex Crognale (5) – The local product entered as a substitute for an injured Josh Williams and played 27 minutes. He tallied two clearances in that short amount of time. Unfortunately for Crognale, his game will be summed up with two plays: The flick header that fell right to the foot of Nico Lodeiro that cost Columbus the result. and The missed shot from six-yards out in the very final moment of the contest. After the game, Porter said, “We missed a two-yard shot. I don’t understand how that doesn’t go in the goal. It’s harder to miss than make.” Not exactly words of encouragement for the young center back.

Robinho (5) – A 68th minute sub for Jimenez, Robinho brought pace to the game, but did not register a shot or any noteworthy stats. He was a connecting pass in the buildup play in the games final moments.

Patrick Mullins (NA) – He wasn’t in long enough to garner a score, though he did manage to chip in a goal… Which was disallowed due to being called offside. It was a questionable and controversial call. If he was offside, it was by the slimmest of margins. You be the judge…

Caleb Porter (5.5) – The Crew’s boss was visually frustrated with the outcome of the match and expressed as much during his postgame comments. Porter and his staff’s plan to stifle the Sounders attack was implemented flawlessly. Seattle looked discombobulated offensively throughout the contest, as Columbus would shift into a 4-4-2 defensively, closing down Seattle’s flank play. The first half was solid for the boys in yellow, but the second half saw the team lack composure during key times, which led to their ultimate demise.