Columbus Crew SC completed group stage play at the MLS is Back Tournament with a perfect record, as the Black & Gold defeated Atlanta United 1-0 with a goal from Youness Mokhtar and a solid performance by backup goalkeeper Andrew Taberll in Orlando, Florida.
The Crew had its third different starting lineup in as many matches and head coach Caleb Porter used all of his five substitutes, so here’s how each of them performed.
Andrew Tarbell (7.5) – The goalkeeper played his first match in a Crew uniform and gave a very positive first impression. The former San Jose Earthquakes’ shot-stopper made a couple of impressive saves in the final minutes on set pieces, looked confident to catch an Ezequiel Barco’s free kick attempt and also showed good passing range.
Harrison Afful (6) – The right back returned to the team after missing the last match and did a fine job in containing Atlanta’s attempts down his side, especially at the beginning of the second half, registering four interceptions. He wasn’t as present offensively as he normally is, though.
Jonathan Mensah © (7) – The captain had another sound defensive performance as he had a match-high eight clearances and did a great job in passing the ball, missing just one of his 40 passes. His consistency lately has been truly impressive and that was the case again against Atlanta.
Aboubacar Keita (6.5) – The 20-year-old defender faced some dangerous attacking players in Ezequiel Barco and Pity Martinez and held his own without any major hiccups. He looked comfortable on the ball but turned it over in a dangerous spot in the first half when he tried to dribble an opponent when he could just have passed the ball to a teammate.
Milton Valenzuela (6) – The left back started his first match in the tournament and showed how valuable he can be to the team with the assist to Mokthar’s goal on a play in which he made the right call and went with the simpler pass. The long inactivity showed, though, when he fouled Pity Martinez in an uncharacteristic, miss-timed sliding tackle a little before leaving the match at the halftime break.
Artur (6) – Back to the starting lineup, the Brazilian distributed the ball efficiently in the center of the field and helped relievie the pressure on Nagbe. In the second half, when he seemed tired, he committed quite a few fouls, but still had three interceptions.
Darlington Nagbe (6) – Nagbe played a little deeper against his former club and, even though he helped controlling the midfield as usual and was sharp in moving the ball, he couldn’t impact the team’s offense as much.
Luis Diaz (6.5) – The winger had a couple of good runs down the right flank and won the positional battle with George Bello. He needs to sharpen his finishing skills, though, to avoid wasting chances like the first half opportunity he had right in front of Brad Guzan. To his credit, he also helped defense more than he typically does even if it didn’t show in the stats sheet.
Pedro Santos (5) – The Portuguese moved back into the central role where he thrived last season and drew a dangerous foul early on the game. He wasn’t as active as usual, however, and left the match during the second half with only one shot attempted, well below his usual average.
Youness Mokhtar (7) – The Dutch midfielder seems reinvigorated in 2020 as he’s not only scoring the goals he didn’t last season but also getting more and more involved in the team’s offense. His great vision and good passing has become way more dangerous when he’s closer to the penalty box. He left the match injured at the end of the first half.
Gyasi Zardes (5) – It was certainly Zardes’ least impressive match in the tournament so far. The striker did a good job in controlling some long passes sent his way and combined with his teammates occasionally, but was very discrete with just 13 touches in 60 minutes.
Derrick Etienne Jr. (5.5) – The winger came on during the final minutes of the first half to replace the injured Mokhtar and that move changed the way the Crew played. As it happened against the New York Red Bulls, he missed a good scoring opportunity inside the penalty box again.
Hector Jimenez (6) – The veteran entered the match at halftime to replace Valenzuela and was limited to defensive work for the most part, in which he did fairly well.
Lucas Zelarayan (6) – The Designated Player played in the final 30 minutes of the match replacing Santos and helped the Black & Gold to regain some of the possession it lost during the early stages of the second half.
Fanendo Adi (5) –The striker came in for Zardes at the 60th-minute mark and struggled to get service from his teammates and to get into dangerous spots. He also had a couple of misplaced passes
Sebastian Berhalter (N/A) – The Homegrown Player had another 10 minutes of playing time when he replaced Nagbe at the end of the match.
Caleb Porter (8) – The coach made the wise decisions of resting some important players like Eloy Room and Lucas Zelarayan but also had some others to get some playing time like Tarbell and Valenzuela. He navigated the group stage very well, rotating players smartly and fielding strong lineups and will enter the knockout round with a fresh and confident squad with nine points when/if the regular season resumes.
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