With the Major League Soccer season winding down and the Columbus Crew sitting on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture, the Black & Gold had a great opportunity to move up in the standings on Wednesday night. After going up 1-0 on Nashville SC on the road, the Crew appeared to be in a good spot to do just that. But the team conceded a goal just two minutes after scoring, and Columbus settled for a 1-1 draw.
While getting a point on the road doesn’t end the Black & Gold’s chances at making the MLS Cup playoffs, the Crew would have done a lot of good by holding on and getting all three points. And while disappointed a win became a draw, the Columbus players and staff felt okay leaving Nashville, one of the toughest places to play in MLS this year, with something instead of nothing.
Let’s take a look at how the Crew players performed in the road draw.
Eloy Room (7) - The Columbus goalkeeper did enough on the night for his team to get a win. Room made five saves on six shots, some of them crucial, but it will be the one he couldn’t stop that everyone will remember. It would have been a spectacular save to keep the shutout on Hany Mukhtar’s goal after the defense left Room out to dry.
Steven Moreira (7) - In his just three games for the Crew, Moreira is certainly looking comfortable. The right back played all 90 minutes, recorded four interceptions, two crosses and one key pass while completing nearly 85 percent of his passes.
Jonathan Mensah (6.5) - The center back played well for the majority of the game, tying for the team lead in clearances (5) on the night and had one blocked shot. He was caught out of position on a couple of occasions and, as the captain, certainly could have kept his team more organized immediately after scoring and prior to the equalizer.
Josh Williams (7) - Williams played his normal game partnering Jonathan at the heart of the Crew’s defense. He too had five clearances while blocking two shots and intercepting two of Nashville’s passes. Like Jonathan, Williams will be disappointed with his play on the goal conceded.
Waylon Francis (7) - Francis has been steady for Columbus throughout the year when he’s filled in at left back and was again on Wednesday night. He played the initial ball that led to the Black & Gold’s goal, one of three key passes in the game. Francis didn’t get forward a ton, with just one cross, but defended well on the left with two interceptions, one tackle and one clearance.
Darlington Nagbe (7) - Another player who consistently puts in good shifts for the Crew is Nagbe. At the heart of the Columbus midfield, the Ohio native completed 92.7 percent of his passes and had two key passes and two long balls. He did commit three fouls and was booked before coming out of the game in stoppage time.
Liam Fraser (6.5) - Fraser started alongside Nagbe to provide a bit more defensive stability and delivered that for the most part. While he had just one interception, Fraser was good at playing the ball out of the back and did get one shot off.
Derrick Etienne Jr. (6) - Etienne’s speed is important for the Black & Gold on the right but his impact needs to be felt more. He only touched the ball 42 times, the second fewest of any starter, made one key pass and missed on both his crosses before being substituted in the 89th minute.
Lucas Zelaryan (8.5) - The Argentine played hero again for the Crew, finishing off a lovely counter attack with a nice goal for the short-lived 1-0 lead. Zelarayan was active as usual, getting on the ball a team-high 67 times and creating multiple chances, including five shots.
Pedro Santos (7.5) - After his throwback performance in the last game, Santos again was a major part of Columbus’ attack against Nashville. Not only did he provide the assist for Zelarayan’s goal, a smart decision to pass instead of shoot, but he got on the ball frequently in the Nashville half and, as usual, earned multiple fouls.
Gyasi Zardes (6.5) - Zardes played the first half before subbing off with an injury. In his time on the field, he wasn’t on the ball much but did get one shot away and complete all five of his passes.
Miguel Berry (7) - Like Zardes, Berry didn’t see much of the ball after coming on at halftime with just 19 touches. He did battle well to win two aerial duels and had the ball to Santos for the secondary assist on the goal.
Marlon Hairston (6) - Hairston checked in in the 73rd minute and wasn’t all that noticeable for the Crew. He had just 13 touches and completed eight passes.
Milton Valenzuela (N/A) - The Argentine left back came into the game in the 89th minute but didn’t see much action, even though he stepped into the midfield.
Vito Wormgoor (N/A) - A late defensive substitution saw Wormgoor come in for Nagbe but he did nothing in his short time on the field.
Ezra Hendrickson (6.5) - Keeping in mind that this was the first time Hendrickson was in charge of an MLS team, as he filled in for Caleb Porter on the sideline, it’s hard to judge his coaching acumen. The Black & Gold didn’t lose, so that’s a positive, but given the position the team is in in the standings and the fact that Columbus went up 1-0, it’s disappointing the Crew doesn’t return home with three points. Hendrickson’s changes reflect that he was content with taking the draw, despite his side needing to win games in this playoff push.