Columbus Crew SC had its first road match in the 2020 Major League Soccer season on Saturday when the Black & Gold went to the Pacific Northwest and brought back a valuable point after a 1-1 draw with reigning champions Seattle Sounders.
It was a tough match against a strong opponent and the team played in a completely different style when compared to the season opener against New York City FC.
Here’s how I graded each player:
Eloy Room (7.5) – The goalkeeper didn’t have to make a ton of difficult saves during the match but he did well when called upon and used his feet smartly as well. He picked the right side on both penalty kicks attempts, but unfortunately got his hand on the one that didn’t count.
Harrison Afful (5.5) – With the Crew playing without the ball for most of the game, the Ghanaian had to play in a more defensive role than usual, but he did fairly well as he took care of his side of the field with just a few mistakes. Unfortunately, one of them was the handball that resulted in a penalty kick for the Sounders. In one of the few chances he had to push forward Afful launched a heavy cross in a play that could have led the Crew to a second goal.
Jonathan Mensah © (8) – The captain was a rock in the center of the Crew’s backline as he stopped several Sounders’ attacking attempts. He ended the match with an impressive nine clearances, most of them made in the air. From a block in a Raul Ruidiaz’s shot early in the match to several clearances near the end, Jonathan was nearly flawless against the defending champions.
Aboubacar Keita (7.5) – Even though he struggled when needing to defend opponents outside the penalty box, the second-year defender played a solid match with two tackles and three clearances and also was more comfortable on the ball than last season.
Milton Valenzuela (7) – The left back had a quiet night offensively, but registered three interceptions and two clearances in the 45 minutes he remained on the field. He was subbed off at halftime, presumably due to a knee injury he sustained during the first half.
Artur (8) – The Brazilian played a tremendous match as he strongly impacted the game on both sides of the ball. On defense, he had a match-high eight tackles to go with three clearances. On offense, he found Diaz in a great spot with a smart pass on the play that ended in Zardes’ goal and also linked several plays when the Sounders were high-pressing the Black & Gold. He still needs to improve his finishing, though.
Darlington Nagbe (7.5) – The U.S. international played his traditional possession game when the Crew had the ball, but also covered a lot of ground when that wasn’t the case. His passing accuracy was again excellent (90.6 percent) and he also had a couple of interceptions on the defensive end.
Luis Diaz (7.5) – The Costa Rican played a perfect pass to Zardes to score the Crew’s goal in a play in which he showed great vision, but also patience to cross the ball at the right time. He demonstrated once again that his speed can be a treat, even against pacey defenders as Joevin Jones.
Lucas Zelarayán (7) – The Argentinean was not as brilliant as in his debut, but he showed glimpses of what he can do. He seems to be connecting well with the wingers and Zardes up top, which is a great sign for the Crew. His free kick attempt on the last play of the match almost went in.
Pedro Santos (6) – The Portuguese winger seems to be not as effective offensively when deployed on the left side as his game somehow becomes more predictable and less direct. He was important as usual on defense but only managed to appear more in the game when he played more centrally in the second half.
Gyasi Zardes (7.5) – As in the season opener, the striker didn’t have a lot of chances, but he took care of the one he had with a perfectly-timed run inside the six-yard box to tap in Diaz’s cross. He also worked hard on the defensive side of the ball, which was important in the match.
Chris Cadden (6.5) – The Scottish fullback provided more proof of his versatility as he came in at halftime to replace Valenzuela at the left back spot and did a fine job in defending a dangerous attacker in Jordan Morris.
Derrick Etienne Jr. (6) – The winger replaced Diaz midway through the second half and didn’t have a lot of opportunities to make his dangerous runs with the ball. He helped the team to keep possession but wasn’t necessarily dangerous.
Youness Mokhtar (5.5) – Mokhtar came in near the end of the match and had a great play, but ultimately ruined it with a bad passing decision.
Caleb Porter (7.5) – His team had good results against the defending MLS Cup winners and last year’s best team in the Eastern Conference played completely different styles. The team didn’t create a ton of chances on both matches, but took advantage of the few quality ones it generated and as long the ratio remains high it will be fine.
Who was the Man of the Match for the Crew?
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