Columbus Crew SC failed to score in back-to-back matches for the first time in 2020 as the Black & Gold travel south on I-71 to bring back one point after a 0-0 tie with in-state rivals FC Cincinnati on Saturday night.
The latest edition of the Hell is Real Derby was the least interesting with both teams struggling to create chances and both goalkeepers registering clean sheets.
Here’s how each Crew player performed at Nippert Stadium:
Eloy Room (7) – The goalkeeper returned to the team after missing the last four matches with an injury and was tested early on as he had to stop a dangerous free kick attempt from Siem de Jong at the 17th-minute mark. At the start of the second half, he got in the way of the Dutch again, this time saving a free kick attempt that was deflected towards the goal in another good action.
Harrison Afful (5) – The fullback didn’t have a lot to worry about on the defensive side of the ball, but was uncharacteristically shy offensively, opting to cross the ball from less-than-ideal positions instead of dribbling or combining with his teammates for most of the game.
Jonathan Mensah © (6.5) – The captain had another good night, leading the team to its fifth clean sheet in eight matches this season. Mensah led the team in interceptions (3) and clearances (2) and didn’t have a lot of work with FC Cincinnati’s offense.
Josh Williams (6.5) – The veteran returned to the starting lineup and was as solid as it gets with good defensive actions and smart ball movement from the back. He had a couple of interceptions and passed the ball at an impressive 94.8 efficiency rate, the second-best mark in the team.
Milton Valenzuela (6) – The left back had to deal with the pacey Joseph-Claude Gyau on his side and did a good job, winning most of the battles with the dangerous winger – he had two tackles and three interceptions. His offensive game wasn’t as sharp, but he still managed to fire a dangerous long-distance shot in the second half.
Artur (5.5) – The Brazilian was a little choppy on the defensive side of the game with quite a few fouls, including a few unnecessary ones that resulted in an early yellow card. On the other side of the ball, he tried his best to help the team in the attacking third with good ball distribution and frequent runs around the penalty box, but had limited success.
Darlington Nagbe (5) – The midfielder was as accurate as usual with his passing game, connecting 94.3 percent of his attempts, but unlike in other occasions, wasn’t really able to disrupt FC Cincinnati’s defense or find a teammate at a really dangerous spot.
Pedro Santos (4.5) – The Portuguese returned to his preferred right side and got more on the ball than in previous matches, but wasn’t necessarily more dangerous. He completed all of his 19 passes, but none of them, outside from a cross to Zardes, really helped the team in creating chances.
Lucas Zelarayan (5) – The Argentinean returned after injury and tried to orchestrate the team’s offense, but his efforts were, for the most part, stopped by FC Cincinnati’s strong defensive block. He left the match early in the second half, probably feeling some fatigue after missing a few matches, without having made a big impact on it.
Youness Mokhtar (4.5) – The Dutch winger reappeared after missing three matches due to injury and helped the team move the ball around the penalty box. He had just 28 touches, though, the second-lowest mark for the starters, and was replaced early in the second half.
Gyasi Zardes (5) – The striker had the team’s best chance in the first half in one of the rare occasions when he was fed the ball in the early 45 minutes, but headed it right in Przemyslav Tyton’s lap. The scenario didn’t change quite much in the second half and he left the field with 10 minutes to go having registered just 17 touches, one shot and an abysmal 37.5 percent passing efficiency.
Derrick Etienne Jr. (5) – The winger came in for Mokhtar and tried to use his pace to create more chances for the Crew. He wasn’t very successful, but played an important defensive role by tracking back FC Cincinnati’s fullbacks and making it more difficult for them to create.
Fatai Alashe (5) – The defensive midfielder made his Crew debut against his former team and helped Artur handle the defensive workload in the central area of the field in a moment in which the Brazilian seemed overloaded. He also provided another big body on offensive and defensive set pieces.
Emmanuel Boateng (4.5) – The Ghanaian winger came off the bench for the third straight match, but struggled to find space on the field, not accomplishing anything worth mentioning in the 25 minutes he was on the field.
Fanendo Adi (N/A) – The striker entered the match against his former club and won a corner kick for the Crew on his only touch in more than 10 minutes.
Caleb Porter (5) – The ability to create against well-organized defensive sides is normally what separates great teams from the good ones and his group failed the test in two consecutive matches. Obviously having two of his four offensive pieces returning after some time sidelined helps, but it feels that at times the Crew lacks a plan B, be it playing more direct or faster in the final third. The Black & Gold have been extremely solid on defense, though, and that’s something he certainly deserves credit for.
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