The Columbus Crew was dealt another late-season blow to its hopes of a top-two finish in the Eastern Conference on Wednesday night as the Black & Gold fell in heartbreaking fashion to Orlando City SC by a final score of 2-1. The home side scored an 84th-minute winner courtesy of Benji Michel, despite being down a man for most of the second half..
That now means the Crew will finish the 2020 season winless on the road, with the team’s last away victory coming September of 2019, a 3-1 victory at Atlanta United. Despite the second half red card to Nani, the Black & Gold were only able to get an equalizer but still gave up the late winner.
Here’s how each player fared individually for Columbus on Wednesday.
Eloy Room (6.5) – It is evident that Room has a presence that not many goalkeepers in MLS can match. If not for his efforts in the first half, the game would have been 3-0 or worse. Despite conceding two goals on the night, the Crew is lucky to have Room, who is back to playing at his best.
Harrison Afful (7) – The Ghanian had a very up-and-down night after a solid outing last Sunday. He committed the error that resulted in Orlando’s first goal, but saved his rating with his second half equalizer after the ball flew into the top left corner and added a goal-line clearance. Afful had the most touches of any player on the night with a whopping 105 and played seven long balls
Jonathan Mensah © (6) – In his 22nd consecutive start on the season, Mensah’s best ability has been his availability. The skipper, along with the rest of the backline, had no answers for Orlando’s long balls but was able to add a team-high five clearances. He was caught too high up the pitch when Michel scored the winner and had some early giveaways that, although were snuffed out, could have made the scoreline more out of reach.
Aboubacar Keita (5.5) – With a goal-saving block early on, Keita started out strong but had his back against the wall against Orlando’s first half high press. He left Orlando’s Urso unmarked early, which should have resulted in the Lions’ opening goal and also escaped a possible handball that could have resulted in a penalty kick. Keita did well passing out of the back, completing 94.6 percent of his passes on 55 touches, second highest for Columbus on the night.
Waylon Francis (5) – After logging his first minutes of 2020 in the last two games, the Costa Rican looked like he needs a little more playing time before he can be a full-time starter. After getting the nod over Milton Valenzuela, Francis had a slight influence on the attack with two key passes but was nowhere to be found on Orlando’s breakthrough goal. His 74.4 percent passing accuracy was the lowest on the team with a minimum of 40 touches.
Darlington Nagbe (6.5) – The midfielder was back to himself on the ball with the highest passing accuracy on the night from both teams with 94.9 percent. However, Nagbe is still getting his legs back after missing time due to injury. His uncanny passing ability, to the fortune of Crew fans, has not gone anywhere.
Artur (7) – The Brazilian has put in some quality shifts for the Black & Gold as of late. Unfortunately, he was on the receiving end of Nani’s studs-up challenge in the second half that resulted in Orlando going down to 10 men for the remaining 40 minutes. Artur had a composed outing in midfield, completing 93.1 percent of his passes and adding four completed long balls to help keep the build-up diverse.
Luis Diaz (5) – The Costa Rican didn’t have a big say in the game, but did benefit by being on the end of Columbus’ best chance in the first half, where he nearly put the ball behind a diving Pedro Gallese. It was the only shot on target for the Crew in the opening 45 minutes. Diaz’s mere 13 touches were the second-lowest for Columbus starters and he completed only 53.9 percent.
Pedro Santos (7) – Back to one of his alternate positions on the left side of the midfield, the Portuguese got it done on both ends of the field. His three key passes helped put Columbus in good opportunities in the second half and three successful tackles highlighted his efforts on the defensive side.
Lucas Zelarayan (7) – As anyone could have predicted, the club’s record signing was again the focal point in anything the Crew did offensively. Like Nagbe, Zelarayan is still looking to regain full match fitness post-injury. With two key passes and three total shots despite only 22 touches, Zelarayan made his presence known despite playing only 68 minutes.
Gyasi Zardes (5.5) – The Black & Gold’s talisman was a ghost as he was only able to get 11 touches on the night before his predetermined substitution. To be fair, the service for the striker wasn’t fantastic. He got off two shots on the night which didn’t threaten Orlando’s goal but did help out on the defensive side while adding three clearances.
Derrick Etienne (5.5) - Coming on in the 59th minute, the winger got involved in the game with 16 touches but wasn’t able to do much with them. He finished his substitute appearance with no shots, one cross and 11 passes, of which he completed just 73 percent.
Youness Mokhtar (6) - In 10 fewer minutes than Etienne, Mokhtar was slightly more impactful. Playing at the No. 10 position, he got on the ball and recorded 16 passes but wasn’t able to help the Crew really control possession or create a chance to win or tie the game.
Aidan Morris (6) - Morris was inserted for Nagbe, who it was decided before the game would not play a full 90 minutes. He was serviceable in the heart of the midfield, completing 91.7 percent of his passes but wasn’t able to help create much.
Krisztian Nemeth (N/A) - The recently-acquired forward came off the bench for Zardes with just over 10 minutes to play. Like the starting forward, Nemeth needed service (see his goal on Sunday) to deliver and didn’t get it with just four touches.
Caleb Porter (5) – Porter will be happy to have his team healthy with a playoff run looming large. The head coach really had no answer for the first half high press of Orlando and the game could have been out of reach before halftime. To his misfortune, the Crew wasn’t unable to generate much offensively even after Nani’s second half red card. Having to substitute Nagbe and Zelarayan early was obvious, but the team lacked balance in the latter stages of the game. Giving Francis the start over Valenzuela for obvious rotation purposes also did not pay off as expected. To get a version of the Crew that will last in the MLS Cup playoffs, Porter needs to get his team to play a full 90 minutes in order to get the results that the group wants.