Columbus Crew SC remains undefeated in 2020 as the Black & Gold won their second-straight match at the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando, Florida, 2-0 against the New York Red Bulls. The team is now guaranteed a place in the knockout round of the competition. The Crew once again saw great performances from its star players as forward Gyasi Zardes and midfielder Lucas Zelarayan scored in the team’s victory on Thursday night.
Here’s how those two and the other Black & Gold players performed in the match:
Eloy Room (7) – The goalkeeper’s performance is a difficult one to judge, as he didn’t have to make any significant saves during the match. Room was exactly where he needed to be every time the ball was around the Crew’s penalty box and was lucky when he misjudged a shot from Kyle Duncan that almost went it. He also showed a fighting spirit to remain on the field until the end the match while injured.
Chris Cadden (7) – The Scottish started a match at the right back spot for the first time and did a good job in combining with Pedro Santos on offense and containing Kaku on the other side of the field. He was also smart on the play that led to the Crew’s goal, as he spotted the Portuguese winger in a great spot and quickly sent the throw-in towards him.
Jonathan Mensah © (8) – The captain was as solid as usual, playing simply but efficiently and helping the Crew to a clean sheet for the third time in four matches with a game-high 13 clearances. Most notably, the efforts of the defensive system he led prevented the Red Bulls from firing a single shot on target in the entire match.
Josh Williams (7.5) – The Ohio native got his first minutes in 2020 and showed he didn’t miss any of his match rhythm. Williams passed the ball as well as usual and registered nine clearances and three interceptions, most notably a key one early in the second half that prevented Daniel Royer from getting the ball inside the six-yard box.
Hector Jimenez (7) – The veteran started for the second-straight match at left back and, despite a couple of hiccups when in possession, had a solid night. He had a good cross for Zardes in the first half, which the striker headed too high, and took care of the defensive duties on his side of the field.
Sebastian Berhalter (7) – The Homegrown midfielder got the first start of his career and clearly didn’t feel the pressure. Berhalter brought some important energy to the team in the center of the field, registering three tackles, and was calm and confident in possession during the 57 minutes he played.
Darlington Nagbe (8) – Playing the Red Bulls had always been a struggle for the Crew, but apparently that changed with Nagbe. Few players in the league use their technique, physical tools and minds in a more prolific way than the Black & Gold midfielder. His passing rate (97.9 percent) was just unbelievable for a central midfielder against a high-pressing team like New York.
Pedro Santos (7.5) – The Portuguese reappeared after missing the opening match of the tournament in Florida and quickly showed how important he can be to the Crew’s offense. In the first half, he not only set Zardes up to score the first goal, displaying a lot of vision and class, but also hit the post with a long-distance shot. He seemed tired in the second half and was taken off later.
Lucas Zelarayan (8) – Every match he plays, the Argentinean makes Crew fans more confident he’s worth every penny the club spent to acquire him. Against the Red Bulls, Zelarayan wasn’t as active as he was against FC Cincinnati, recording just 30 touches, but he came up big to score the team’s second goal with a clinical finish that ended a perfectly-executed counter-attack and had great distribution with an 88.2 percent passing accuracy.
Derrick Etienne Jr. (7.5) – The winger faced one of his former clubs and missed a great opportunity to score in the first half when he seemed to be off-balance and couldn’t tap in a great pass from Zardes with the goalkeeper already down. He was brilliant on the second goal, though, showing the determination to fight for a 50-50 ball, the energy to beat the defenders with his pace and the patience to wait for the right moment to feed Zelarayan.
Gyasi Zardes (8.5) – The striker continues on his great form and has now scored in three of his first four official matches in 2020. His movement on the goal was great and his left-footed finish was even better. Zardes played such a great match that he was involved in all of Columbus’ best chances, heading the ball forward to Etienne on the second goal and feeding the winger with a great pass he didn’t convert.
Artur (6.5) – The Brazilian midfielder came on at the 57th minute to replace Berhalter and kept the intensity high, getting three tackles in just a few minutes of play.
Youness Mokhtar (7.5) – After a great performance in the first match of the tournament, the Dutch winger started on the bench, but was called upon to replace Zelarayan at the 57th-minute mark. He almost scored a spectacular goal after dribbling the ball past two defenders and chipping it over the goalkeeper, but saw his shot hit the crossbar.
Aidan Morris (6.5) – The rookie came off the bench for the second time in as many matches, as he replaced Nagbe at the 67th minute. He showed some promise again, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Luis Diaz (6.5) – The Costa Rican came off the bench to replace Santos midway through the second half and tried to use his pace to be a counter-attacking treat for the Crew. He got himself in good spots but lacked the final pass a couple of times.
Fanendo Adi (6) – The veteran striker entered the match with 10 minutes to go and battled with the Red Bulls defenders as the Crew tried to keep possession up top.
Caleb Porter (8) – His choice of lineup seemed like an odd one at first as he made five changes for a match that could have seen the team qualify after a great performance just a few days ago. The game showed, however, that he had just the right players to execute his game plan against an opponent that typically creates problems for the Crew and failed to have a single shot on goal this time.
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