After a long four months, Columbus Crew SC finally got to play soccer again in the team’s opening match of the MLS is Back tournament against in-state rivals FC Cincinnati. In what was a 4-0 drubbing for the Black & Gold, multiple players stood out. So for the first time in four months, here are the Massive Report game grades from Saturday night’s match:
Eloy Room: (7.0) - Room had a quiet night. The goalkeeper’s major save came in the first half when former Crew winger Kekuta Manneh went to his outside foot and ripped a shot on target right at Room. But the keeper was able to stand tall and make the save and held his ground the rest of the game.
Hector Jimenez (7.8) - For as long as Jimenez has played in the league, he still has it. Operating at left back in this match, Jimenez was able to notch an assist on the fourth goal and completing 92 percent of his passes.
Vito Wormgoor (6.0) - Before being taken off with an injury, Wormgoor had a slow start to the match. The center back seemed to relax and was caught out of position on a couple of chances created by Cincinnati. Although he was able to quickly recover on the only good chance FC Cincy had during the night, going down with an injury after being a concrete piece of the back four really doesn’t do justice in rating an overall performance.
Jonathan Mensah (7.3) - Mensah picked up where he left off early in the season. The center back had same physicality that he had before the break during this match against Crew’s rival. Although he picked up a yellow card, which could have been questionable to be a red, Mensah was one of the more dominant players in the match.
Harrison Afful (6.3) - Afful had a quiet night in this match. Although he completed 89 percent of his passes, the Ghana native was present but couldn’t contribute his normal performance during the night.
Darlington Nagbe (7.6) - Nagbe had himself a game. The epicenter of a good portion of the Crew’s chances were created through the middle and came through Nagbe. The central midfielder had the third-highest pass completion percentage and, in some way, played a huge part in all of Crew’s goals.
Artur (7.8) - Just like Nagbe, Artur performed well. His only chance to net a goal came in the first half when he got his head on a corner kick, but the attempt was high over the crossbar. Despite that goal-scoring opportunity, Artur’s pairing with Nagbe appears like it will tear apart the defense of Columbus’ opponents.
Lucas Zelarayan (9.0) - The Black & Gold got what they wanted out of the $7 million signing. Zelarayn’s second goal of the season came from a fantastic free kick, but the Argentine No. 10 produced what could be an early contender for Goal of the Year. The playmaking ability of Zelarayan is uncomparable, and the assist on the second goal of the night was pure class.
Youness Mokhtar (8.8) - Mokhtar was an unsung hero in the match, providing a goal and an assist. Mokhtar was able to slice a pass through a bad defending FC Cincinnati team to help double the Black & Gold’s lead in the first half. Clearly out of position, Mokhtar played the ball perfectly and on time. His goal, on the other hand, was clinical as he curled home a pass from Jimenez just inside the 18-yard box.
Luis Diaz (7.8) - Diaz torched Cincinnati last year, notching a goal and an assist in the Crew’s 3-1 victory in Nippert Stadium. He nearly replicated the same goal but farther out before halftime, but his strike was just off target. Diaz played well, completing 75 percent of has passes still has room to get better.
Gyasi Zardes (9.5) - With three goals in his last two outings, Zardes is quickly rounding into scoring form. Two goals on the night and it seems like he picked up where he left off and continued his goal scoring ways. Being able to split off and find green grass on his first goal is certainly what helped propel his rating.
Aidan Morris (6.1) - Morris was able to step on to the big stage for the first time in his career, although it was under crazy circumstances. While he didn’t get settled into the game in a timely manner, it was still nice to see the Homegrown product make his MLS debut.
Sebastian Berhalter (6.1) - Just like Morris, Berhalter made his MLS debut and the Homegrown rookie did so in front of his dad, former Crew manager and current United States Men’s National Team boss Gregg Berhalter.
Chris Cadden (6.2) - A normal second half sub, Cadden quickly settled into the match. Nothing spectacular happened during his 30 minutes but Cadden didn’t miss a beat in his passing, completing all his attempts during his time on the pitch.
Aboubacar Keita (8.0) - Keita replaced Wormgoor in the first half and was able to adjust to the quick pressure the FC Cincinnati offense. Along with Mensah, Keita absorbed the pressure late in the first half, making FC Cincy force themselves into mistakes.
Derrick Etienne Jr (6.3) - Playing against his former team, Etienne settled into the match quickly. Just like Cadden, nothing much came from the former Cincinnati winger, but he was able to string along passes, connecting on 92 percent.
Caleb Porter (7.3) The Crew head coach’s team was dominant and looked to not need much additional instruction. There may have been some questions on substituting Keita and not Josh Williams, but it worked out in the end. Porter now much help the Crew keep this momentum. The Black & Gold are top of Group E and have a tough task ahead of them as they take on the New York Red Bulls next, who is coming off of a 1-0 win against Atlanta United.