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Game Grades: Crew vs. Houston Dynamo

Player grades following a disappointing draw in Houston.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Houston Dynamo Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

It was a tough night in Texas, as the Columbus Crew could only pull off a 1-1 draw against the Houston Dynamo. The first half lacked energy and urgency, and the game did not open up until Houston scored in the 37th minute.

The second half brought more offensive sequences for Columbus. Some key substitutions eventually led to the Crew forcing a Dynamo own goal in the 67th minute, but the team still struggled to produce chances. The Black & Gold were outshot 24-8 and spent much of the game reacting to Houston’s attacks.

Despite the less than stellar result, this game saw the return of Eloy Room, Darlington Nagbe and Lucas Zelarayan from injury. While Nagbe and Zelarayan were under minute restrictions, it was encouraging to see them take the field again.

With that, here’s how the players graded out after the draw in Houston.


Eloy Room (7) - The shot stopper returned to the lineup and put in a good performance that kept Columbus in the game. While he couldn’t get a hold of the ball on Houston’s goal, he logged five saves, including one off of a free kick and another despite his vision being obscured. Room does not seem to have missed a beat

Harrison Afful (6) - Afful seemed to have some trouble getting forward, particularly in the first half, but did a decent job in defense, with most of the Dyanamo attack coming down the other side of the field. He was given a yellow card for a bad tackle in the 32nd minute but never ran the risk of being sent off.

Jonathan Mensah (6) - The captain put in a good shift, despite struggles to contain Houston’s attack. He completed 92 percent of his passes, had three interceptions and won three aerial duels, including a collision with an opposing player in the air. While the defense was able to contain most of the Dynamo’s shots, there were some concerning instances when players such as Darwin Quintero were left wide open in the penalty box.

Aboubacar Keita (5.5) - Keita put in a decent performance as well but was caught out or dispossessed on a couple of occasions. He completed 86 percent of his passes and won three aerial duels, but had some questionable moments, including when he scuffed a pass that resulted in a Dynamo corner. As said above, the defense was able to contain the Houston attack, but it was shaky at times.

Milton Valenzuela (6.5) - Valenzuela seemed to have an easier time getting forward than Afful and partnered well with Santos and Mokhtar. There were a couple of moments when he struggled when pressured, but he had a decent defensive performance with four tackles and two interceptions.

Artur (6.5) - It was another good game for the Brazilian as Artur played the full 90 minutes and recorded the second-most passes on the team with 65. He completed 60 of these and had three tackles, including a key one that led to Columbus’ first corner of the game in the second half.

Darlington Nagbe (6.5) - The midfield engine finally returned from injury and quickly got back to his old ways, completing all 42 of his passes. Nagbe spent most of the night just trying to maintain possession in the midfield as offensive outlets were rarely available. He was subbed off in the 63rd minute for Aidan Morris, which was planned ahead of the game due to a minutes restriction.

Derrick Etienne Jr. (5.5) - Columbus’ play along the wings struggled in the first half with Houston shutting down most of the opportunities to get the ball forward. Etienne had one key pass but was only able to record 10 passes overall. He was subbed off in the 63rd minute for Luis Diaz.

Pedro Santos (7) - Santos had three of the Crew’s eight shots, all coming in the first half. None of the shots were on target, but they were the only signs of offense for the first 45 minutes. He put a good ball into the penalty box off of a free kick in the 59th minute, but no Crew player was able to connect with it. Santos also had two key passes. He was subbed off in the 84th minute.

Emmanuel Boateng (5.5) - Much like Etienne, Boateng struggled to get past the Dynamo defense, particularly when going up against opposing center back Zarek Valentin. Despite this, Boateng was able to complete 11 of his 12 passes. The winger played the first half before being substituted for the returning Zelarayan.

Krisztian Nemeth (5.5) - Filling in for the injured Gyasi Zardes, Nemeth got his first start in a Crew jersey. He was disconnected from the rest of the team for most of the game, recording only 11 passes. This was not necessarily his fault, as Columbus seemed to struggle to get service to him from either the wings or through midfield. He was a bit more offensively involved in the second half and was well-positioned to help force the Dynamo own goal. He was subbed off in the 77th minute for Mokhtar.


Lucas Zelarayan (6) - The playmaker returned from injury and came on at halftime. He brought a bit more energy to the offense, but the Crew still struggled to produce. He had one key pass, but was dispossessed twice and couldn’t break through the Houston defense.

Aidan Morris (6) - The rookie came on for Nagbe in the 63rd minute and brought some new energy into the midfield, regularly chasing after the ball. He recorded two dribbles and two tackles but was given a yellow card late in the game after a tussle with a Dynamo player.

Luis Diaz (6.5) - Diaz was the key sub of the game, coming on for Etienne in the 63rd minute. He broke through on the wing and sent a great ball into the 18-yard box that forced the Houston own goal. While this did seem to briefly reinvigorate the offense, Diaz only had six passes during his time on the field.

Youness Mokhtar (6) - Mokhtar only had a brief appearance in the game, coming on for Nemeth in the 77th minute. Despite this, the winger got involved immediately and contributed the Crew’s first shot on target of the entire game in the 83rd minute.

Jordan Hamilton (NA) - The Canadian forward made his season debut, coming on for Santos in the 84th minute. He was not on long enough to make an impact.

Head Coach

Caleb Porter (6.5) - The head coach put together a strong lineup and was able to reintegrate Room, Nagbe and Zelarayan. While the team still struggled offensively, Porter made some good substitutions, particularly replacing Nagbe and Etienne with Morris and Diaz. The result is not ideal, but Porter made some good adjustments to salvage a point for the Crew.


Who was the Crew’s Man of the Match against the Houston Dynamo?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Pedro Santos
    (11 votes)
  • 9%
    Darlington Nagbe
    (4 votes)
  • 30%
    Luis Diaz
    (13 votes)
  • 34%
    Eloy Room
    (15 votes)
43 votes total Vote Now