Columbus Crew SC clawed back from a 2-0 deficit to draw 2-2 with the Chicago Fire on Saturday afternoon while missing key starters in Darlington Nagbe and Lucas Zelarayan. The normally staunch defense was shaky for most of the game but was able to prevent a third goal, allowing the offense time to break down the Chicago backline.
Here’s how the players grade out:
Eloy Room (5) - The Crew goalkeeper was uncharacteristically poor on the two Chicago goals, particularly on the second, which slipped underneath him. He made up for it by making some big saves in the second half, including a shot right in front of the goal in the 86th minute.
Harrison Afful (5) - The fullback was in the wrong spot to stop Chicago’s first goal and was mostly quiet offensively. He did make some good passes forward in the second half, leading to some decent chances from the Crew wingers.
Jonathan Mensah (5) - Jonathan lost his man on Chicago’s second goal and the central defense seemed off the entire game, allowing too many chances in the Crew’s penalty box. He did receive a yellow card, although the offending tackle did prevent a potentially dangerous Chicago counter attack. He also provided good headers in the opponent’s 18-yard box off of corner kicks.
Josh Williams (5) - The Crew center back had a couple of good stops throughout the game, but could have better timed his tackle to prevent the cross for Chicago’s second goal. As said, the central defense seemed shaky all afternoon, but it held on in the second half.
Milton Valenzuela (5) - Valenzuela was caught out by the throw-in prior to the Fire’s second goal and was quiet for most of the first half. As the second half went on, he got more involved in moving the ball forward and was key in a couple of clearances in the dying minutes of the game.
Artur (5.5) - The Crew’s midfield was pretty quiet throughout the entire game, appearing only in small spurts. Artur had a couple of moments where he would draw fouls or get the ball into the penalty box but also had the tendency to lose his man and allow the Fire to create chances. With Nagbe potentially out for a few games, Artur will need to step up his performances.
Fatai Alashe (6.5) - Alashe put in a decent performance, inadvertently scoring the Crew’s first goal off of a header from Zardes. While he did commit a few fouls, Alashe generally had good field position and made some good ball recoveries to break Chicago attacks.
Luis Diaz (5.5) - The winger did not take as many shots as normal, instead sticking to crosses or passes on the group in the 18-yard box. Unfortunately, many of these passes were not precise enough to reach their targets, leading to a lot of turnovers. He was replaced by Boateng in the 64th minute.
Pedro Santos (6.5) - Santos once again took on the attacking midfielder role in the absence of Zelarayan. Santos grew into the game and his set pieces were more dangerous as time went on. He often waited too long to make the final pass but fought to keep possession in the final third. One of his corners also led to Columbus’ first goal. He, unfortunately, went off injured in the 81st minute and was replaced by Adi.
Derrick Etienne Jr. (6) - Etienne was the most productive member of the Crew offense in the first half, producing some great passes and taking a couple of shots. He also made some decent ball recoveries and tackles to stymy the Fire’s offense. As the game went on, the accuracy of his passes dipped and he lost some of his bite in the second half. He was replaced in the 75th minute by Mokhtar.
Gyasi Zardes (7.5) - The Columbus striker was mostly shut down by the Chicago defense in the first half, but he was able to make a few defensive contributions. He was able to get around the Fire’s center backs in the second half, breaking through and taking some good shots. His header off of a corner kick led to Alashe’s goal and he was able to get a goal of his own in the last few minutes of normal time. He showed great focus and skill to collect the ball off of an awkward deflection and sealed it with an excellent finish.
Emmanuel Boateng (6) - Boateng came on for Diaz and had limited contributions until the last few minutes. He had a couple of chances himself and showed excellent ball retention under pressure. He also contributed to some good chance-producing passing build-ups.
Youness Mokhtar (6.5) - Mokhtar came in for Etienne and provided the spark needed for the Crew’s second goal. He had a decent chance himself and had a great run after picking up a long pass from the Columbus backline. He also showed good vision to feed a pass to Zardes for his goal.
Fanendo Adi (N/A) - The striker came in for the injured Santos, but contributed very little to the Columbus attack in the few minutes he was on the field.
Caleb Porter (6) - Once again, Porter elected to not use all of the five available substitutions. The ones he made, though, were mostly spot-on, particularly Mokhtar. He may be concerned with the team’s defense in the absence of midfield general Nagbe, an issue that will have to be dealt with if he is out for multiple weeks. On the positive side, an offense, absent Zelarayan, was able to produce two goals. But, the Crew still has lingering issues with starting games off slow.
Who was the Crew’s Man of the Match against the Chicago Fire?
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