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Game Grades: Crew vs. Montreal Impact

What we made of the Black & Gold’s individual performances in the loss.

For the first time in the 2020 season, the Columbus Crew fell at home on Wednesday night. The Black & Gold dropped what can only be described as a disappointing 2-1 loss to a Montreal Impact side that came into the game winless in five matches and barley inside the expanded Major League Soccer playoff format. The defeat at MAPFRE Stadium dropped the Crew from the top spot in the league and the Eastern Conference and extended a winless run to three games.

Let’s take a look at how those involved in the game performed Wednesday night.

Starters

Andrew Tarbell (6) - In his first start since late August, Tarbell put in a quiet night in Columbus’ goal. The goalkeeper faced three shots, two of them found the back of the net. While he guessed the right way on the penalty kick, there was not much he could do about Bojan’s effort. Tarbell, however, could have done more to keep the backline organized early in the game when Montreal hit the woodwork twice.

Harrison Afful (7.5) - Despite the loss and conceding two goals, the Crew fullback had a solid performance. Defensively, he was one of the Black & Gold’s better players, intercepting a game-high five passes and blocking a shot. Going forward, he was active with seven crosses and four accurate long balls, the most on the team. He did have the handball just before the Impact’s first goal that resulted in a yellow card but it was either that or allow the ball to go into the net.

Jonathan Mensah (5.5) - For as good as the Crew’s captain has been in 2020, Jonathan was that poor early in the game. He nearly gifted Montreal a goal in the opening minutes of the match with a poor pass back and seemed out of sorts when Artur dropped into the backline when Columbus had possession. Jonathan got better as the game progressed, but the Impact also dropped off. Better days are ahead for the Ghanian center back.

Josh Williams (6) - This was one of Williams’ less active games for the Black & Gold. The center back had the fewest touches of any of the Crew defenders, which is only concerning in that Columbus attempted to play longer out of the back with the wind in the second half and Williams is one of the more accurate defensive long-ball passers. He had just one interception and no tackles.

Milton Valenzuela (6) - While not as active as Afful offensively, Valenzuela did make his typical runs down the left flank, setting up Zardes’ goal. Defensively, the Argentine had a quiet day with just two tackles before he was substituted with an injury in the 69th minute.

Artur (7) - After an uncharacteristically poor start when asked to play the old Wil Trapp role and drop to join the center backs, Artur found his form as the game progressed. The central midfielder had a ridiculous eight tackles in the center of the park, completed more than 85 percent of his passes and had one of the few shots on goal in the early portions of the match.

Aidan Morris (6.5) - Making his first professional start alongside Artur in the heart of the Crew’s midfield, the Homegrown rookie performed well. Morris was efficient with his passing, completing 94.1 percent of his 34 attempts and all three long balls and made three tackles and two interceptions while working all over the field. As the game wore down, so did Morris, who was replaced in the 78th minute.

Luis Diaz (6) - The young winger was active early for the Crew, getting on the ball frequently and making runs into the attacking third. For some reason, his effectiveness disappeared as the match went on and Diaz finished the game with just 30 touches before he came out in the 78th minute.

Pedro Santos (8) - If there’s one player who can’t be blamed for the Black & Gold’s loss, it’s Santos. The Portuguese attacker played in the No. 10 role again with Lucas Zelarayan out and did as good of a job as could be expected. Santos had the second-most touches on the team and wasn’t afraid to be aggressive, firing off a team-high five shots and attempting to put his teammates in good scoring spots.

Youness Mokhtar (6.5) - Mokhtar had a similar night to Diaz where he was active early and faded a bit as the match went on. He was the first Crew player substituted, coming off in the 67th minute. Mokhtar did show some good dribbling ability and was involved in a couple of key passing sequences. He had a good effort at goal that went wide in the second half as well.

Gyasi Zardes (6.5) - The forward was his normal, active self in this game, making important runs and helping his team start the defensive pressing. Unfortunately in the first half, his teammates were not able to get him enough service around the six-yard box. His goal came from a deflection that bounced up and hit him in the face, but they all count the same and Zardes will take his 10th finish of the year.

Substitutes

Emmanuel Boateng (5.5) - The winger entered the game in the 67th minute for Mokhtar but didn’t do much on the left wing with no cross attempts against a defense that quickly bunkered after taking the lead. He did get sprung in behind the Montreal backline late in the match but went down easily in the penalty box and was not awarded a spot kick.

Hector Jimenez (6) - Jimenez entered the game in an unfortunate situation after an injury to Valenzuela in the 69th minute. Without much prep time to get himself into the match, Jimenez bumped into the back of Bojan in the 18-yard box. Although it was not ruled a penalty kick by referee Victor Rivas initially, VAR said otherwise. Jimenez did have two key passes and one tackle.

Derrick Etienne Jr. (6.5) - Of the two wingers off the bench for the Crew, Etienne was the more active. Despite playing 11 fewer minutes than Boateng, Etienne had just two fewer touches, one more shot and actually got off two crosses. The winger was a bit careless with his passing, however, completing just 66.7 percent of his nine attempts.

Fanendo Adi (6) - In 12 minutes of play plus stoppage time, Adi got himself in good positions in the penalty box with two headers right in front of goal, but one went up in the air and the other was a soft, floated effort. Both were saved by Montreal goalkeeper Clément Diop.

Head coach

Caleb Porter (5.5) - Any time a team loses a game it should win, blame is going to be put on the head coach. Porter said after the match that his team didn’t have enough fight and these are contests that the best teams in MLS don’t lose. His side did. The Crew didn’t look organized defensively early on while trying to match the Impact’s 3-5-2 look while in possession and struggled to create the good looks in the penalty box that normally come.