Back to winning ways. That’s what Columbus Crew SC was able to accomplish on Wednesday night, defeating the Philadelphia Union 1-0 in a battle of two of the teams near the top of the Eastern Conference. For the Crew, it was nice to get a victory after going 0-1-1 in the last two matches and the team earned its seventh shutout in nine matches in 2020.
In what was an exciting, open game, especially when compared to Saturday’s encounter with FC Cincinnati, that gave us a good look at this team when it is at full strength. Here are the player ratings from Columbus’ win:
Eloy Room (7) - The shot-stopper made only three saves on the night but benefitted from a solid defense in front of him. A lot of hockey-esque swarms in front of the goal could have ended up behind Room but he held strong when called upon and kept the backline organized.
Harrison Afful (7.5) - The longtime right back put in good a shift Wednesday night, as he commanded the right side of the park. Afful had the most touches (102) of any player on the Black & Gold and played some key crosses that nearly found their target.
Josh Williams (7) - The center back made a crucial clearance late in the first half after Nagbe saved a Union shot off the line. Williams played a largely composed game and managed a team-high five clearances.
Jonathan Mensah (8) - The club captain was his usual self at the back despite a shaky moment that saw Mensah escape a clear handball before allowing goalscoring opportunity. Mensah is in spectacular form and has been a key piece in the Crew’s seven clean sheets.
Milton Valenzuela (7) - Similarly to Afful, the Argentinian left back has put in a solid 2020 season with Wednesday’s performance being further evidence. Valenzuela got forward a bit to help with crosses and was solid in defensive duties.
Artur (7.5) - A revitalized Artur was key Wednesday in his long-ball play. The central midfielder was eight for 10 on long-ball passes and helped Nagbe command the midfield with four tackles and two interceptions
Darlington Nagbe (8) - Crew fans have gotten used to seeing consistent performances from Nagbe in 2020 and Wednesday night was no different. Along with dictating the midfield and completing 95.3 percent of his passes, the Noo. 6 stopped a potential Union goal off the line in the latter stages of the first half.
Pedro Santos (7) - The winger was active as usual playing on the right win for Columbus. Santos did well defensively with three tackles and had two key passes, including his assist that set up the goal. Now if only he could get his shots on target...
Lucas Zelarayan (8) - The Crew’s No. 10 once again proved why he was brought to Central Ohio in a club-record signing. Zelarayan may go dark at times, but his quality is evident after adding another wonder goal to his so far short-lived MLS career, with many more surely to come.
Youness Mokhtar (6) - It’s been a quiet return from the Dutch international since recovering from injury and despite a few good dribbles was dispossessed a game-high four times and wasn’t quick enough getting his passes off.
Gyasi Zardes (6.5) - A quiet night from the Crew talisman only saw the forward with 27 touches. The birthday boy was able to get a decent shot off and completed only two key passes in the game.
Derrick Etienne Jr. (6) - If he doesn’t start, Etienne seems a safe bet to come off the bench for the Crew. The winger has now appeared in eight straight contests and, while this wasn’t his finest performance, brings speed and a willingness to work on both sides of the ball.
Fanendo Adi (6) - With the team leading, Adi came into the match for Zardes in the 80th minute and did what was necessary to help close out the match. He held up the ball decently when the Crew came on the attack and was a help on defensive set pieces.
Fatai Alashe (N/A) - The central midfielder came on in the 89th minute in a late cameo to help see out the win but didn’t have much time to impact the game.
Caleb Porter (7) - It wasn’t pretty, but Porter has the Crew rightfully back at the top of the Eastern Conference after back-to-back uninspiring performances post-MLS is Back tournament. While the Crew’s ability in the final third has been lacking production, the performance against Philly showed that it will sometimes come down to the quality Porter has at his disposal.
Who was the Crew’s Man of the Match against the Philadelphia Union?
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