The Columbus Crew secured an important home victory as the Black & Gold battled Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference leaders, the Philadelphia Union, to a 2-1 win at MAPFRE Stadium on Sunday afternoon. It wasn’t a perfect match from the Crew, which counted on fantastic by goalkeeper Eloy Room and huge impact off the bench from winger Luis Diaz and forward Krisztian Nemeth to take all three points.
But three points is three points and this late in the year, the team will take that. Here’s how each Columbus player fared in the match.
Eloy Room (9) – The goalkeeper had a busy first half, registering three saves in the initial 45 minutes, including a key one on a shot from Olivier Mbaizo that hit the post after his deflection. The second half wasn’t any easier for Room, who made several magnificent saves among the eight he registered in the match and only let in Jamiro Monteiro’s penalty kick.
Harrison Afful (6.5) – The fullback was the subject of non-stop instructions coming from Porter on the sidelines as the coach wanted him to make better use of the space ahead of him. The Ghanaian responded well, being present on the offensive half with three crosses and taking care of his defensive duties without much trouble.
Jonathan Mensah © (4) – The captain had an unusually terrible first half, turning the ball over in dangerous spots at least three times, including once inside the penalty box when he had control. Things didn’t get any better in the second half, when was beat on the run by Sergio Santos and tackled the forward in the penalty box, conceding a penalty kick for the Union. It was a match to forget for Jonathan.
Aboubacar Keita (6.5) – The game was a valuable lesson for the young defender, who maintained his calm without the reassuring presence of Jonathan by his side. With his center back partner having a bad night, Keita stepped up to lead the team’s defensive efforts with six clearances and made a couple of key actions inside the penalty box near the final whistle.
Milton Valenzuela (5) – The Argentinean had an uncharacteristic rough game defensively, registering no tackles or interceptions, committing two fouls and getting a yellow card, which caused him to be substituted near the end of the match. His offensive production was pale in the first half, but in the second part of the game, the left back was more active in the attacking third and managed to work with Santos on a few plays.
Artur (8.5) – The Brazilian was a workhorse in the center of the field, covering a lot of ground and patrolling the Union attacking players around Columbus’ penalty box with team-highs five tackles and four interceptions. He did a great job in the play that ended on his goal as he pressed to get the ball back in a great spot and was unafraid to shoot from outside the 18-yard box and had a couple more dangerous offensive runs.
Darlington Nagbe (5.5) – The midfielder showed some signs of missing match rhythm, which is understandable considering his long absence, but his presence helped the Crew move the ball faster and find good spots to operate in the final third, something the team recently missed. His limited defensive contributions allowed the Union to control the center of the field for most of the game.
Derrick Etienne Jr. (6.5) – The right winger did a good job of exploring the space available on the flanks and consistently created good chances from his side. His performance dropped in the second half with the Crew preferring its left side to push forward, but he still had good defensive production with two tackles.
Lucas Zelarayan (6) – The Argentinean started a match for the first time in nearly a month and showed flashes of his potential, most notably in the play in which he sent a cross into the penalty box for Zardes to head it on to the crossbar. He was active with four keys passes but was on and off for most of the match.
Pedro Santos (5.5) – The Portuguese didn’t see much of the ball during the first half, but got more involved in the final 45 minutes. He combined well with Valenzuela at times but didn’t create any real goal scoring opportunity. His defensive commitment was, as usual, a positive with three interceptions.
Gyasi Zardes (6) – The striker struggled with the team’s limited chance creation in the first half, but managed to be dangerous in the only opportunity he had beating a defender in a run into the penalty box to head the ball off the crossbar. He battled for the ball in the second half, but couldn’t produce much.
Luis Diaz (7.5) – The Costa Rican came in for Etienne with 20 minutes to go and used his pace to get in a good position to sent a fantastic cross towards Nemeth for the team’s second goal. Once he produces plays like this more consistently it will be difficult to keep him out of the starting lineup.
Krisztian Nemeth (8) – The MLS veteran entered the match with less than 10 minutes to go and needed only a single touch to score Columbus’ game-winning goal. He’s quickly proving to be a more interesting option off the bench than Fanendo Adi.
Waylon Francis (N/A) – The left back was the Crew’s final sub, joining the game with only five minutes left on the clock and didn’t participate enough in the match.
Caleb Porter (7.5) – With almost the entirety of his ideal starting lineup available – Josh Williams should be back next match — his team secured an important win against an Eastern Conference rival but it wouldn’t have been like that without Room’s fantastic performance. His team seemed to have the right strategy heading into the match again and his subs worked to perfection, but the ups and downs during matches are still a point of concern.
Who was the Crew’s Man of the Match against the Philadelphia Union?
This poll is closed