Columbus Crew SC and FC Cincinnati are likely rather familiar with each other by now. On Sunday night, the Crew and FC Cincy met for the second time in just over a week, but the result was much more in the Black & Gold’s favor with the home side winning 3-0.
It was a more entertaining match for the 1,500 supporters permitted at MAPFRE Stadium than the 0-0 draw they watched on television last Saturday, and not just because there were goals. Let’s take a look at how everyone involved on the Crew side graded out.
Eloy Room (6) - It was a quiet night for the Columbus goalkeeper, who recorded his sixth shutout in seven games played this year. In this one, however, Room didn’t have to record a save and rarely touched the ball other than when his teammates played a pass back to him.
Harrison Afful (7) - The Crew fullback played a typical game, using the space in front of him to attack often. And although he only completed one of his eight cross attempts, Afful connected on 92 percent of the rest of his passes and was involved in the creation of the home side’s third goal.
Josh Williams (7) - When playing a team like Cincinnati who likes to sit back, the important thing for a center back to do is not lose focus. Williams did a good job of this despite not being tested much in the game. He finished with two interceptions and one clearance but didn’t have to make a tackle.
Jonathan Mensah (7) - Similar to Williams, Jonathan was not tested much and didn’t have to make a tackle in the game. The captain did keep things organized and blocked two of FC Cincy’s seven shot attempts.
Milton Valenzuela (7.5) - The left back had the toughest test of any one on the Crew backline dealing with speedy fullback Joseph-Claude Gyau, who caused the Black & Gold trouble in the last meeting. Valenzuela did well to limit the opposing wing back and kept him pinned back with runs forward evidenced by his two shots and one key pass.
Artur (6.5) - In a position in the engine room of the Crew’s midfield, it’s generally a good thing when Artur’s name isn’t called often. Playing in a slightly different role, Artur patrolled the midfield well with one tackle and completed 94.3 percent of his passes.
Fatai Alashe (7) - Making his first start for the Crew against his former team, Alashe played well alongside Artur in the midfield. Without much pressure from Cincinnati, Alashe was able to connect on 98 percent of his passes and hit on three of his four long attempts as he sprayed the ball around the field.
Pedro Santos (9) - This was finally the type of performance Crew fans expected from Santos after his breakout season a year ago. Playing on the right in the first half and the left and in the middle in the second, the Portuguese playmaker helped run the show and finished with the game-winning goal on a one-time strike and an assist on the second.
Darlington Nagbe (7.5) - Playing more advanced than normal in the No. 10 role, Nagbe was on the ball a lot with the most touches of any Crew attacking player. Despite being the target of a number of Cincinnati fouls and rough play, Nagbe still managed to complete all 42 of his pass attempts.
Youness Mokhtar (6.5) - It wasn’t quite a performance to forget for the Dutch winger, but it wasn’t one with any real memorable moments either. Mokhtar played 45 minutes before he was substituted but had fewer than 30 touches and only 14 passes. Better days are ahead.
Fanendo Adi (7) - Many Crew fans are not going to be happy with Adi until he scores, but the forward, making his first start for the Black & Gold, put together his best game in Columbus. He was active up top holding up the ball, drew two fouls and was involved in a couple of sequences that led to chances. Zardes even credited him with wearing down the Cincinnati defense for when he entered the match.
Luis Diaz (7.5) - The Crew has been looking for a player to create a spark coming off the bench and Diaz certainly did that. He ran at a tired Cincinnati defense with his pace after coming on for Mokhtar at halftime and created the opening goal. He can still be more accurate with both his passes and his shots, however.
Gyasi Zardes (8.5) - The forward, who celebrated his birthday and the birth of a child all in the last week, had quite the game in 28 minutes, finding the back of the net twice. Both finishes came in typical Zardes fashion but his work rate and connections with his teammates made a difference in the second half as well.
Derrick Etienne Jr. (6) - Coming on for Artur in the 75th minute, Etienne took up his spot on the wing and used his speed to keep Cincinnati from pushing forward. He only had nine touches but completed all four of his pass attempts.
Sebastian Berhalter (6) - A 10-minute cameo from the rookie was used to help see the game out. Berhalter didn’t allow FC Cincy to get any control back in the game, which was all he needed to do.
Caleb Porter (8) - In the third game in eight days, Porter elected to rotate his attacking group — also due to “a knock” to Lucas Zelarayan and Zardes spending time at the hospital with his newborn — and was still able to get a 3-0 win. The Crew was more active against Cincinnati’s bunkering defense and took the chance early in the second half. Porter’s subs of Diaz and Zardes made a major difference, which is what a head coach wants to see.
Who was the Crew’s Man of the Match against FC Cincinnati?
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