The road curse is over for the Columbus Crew after a long 15 months. Saturday night’s 2-1 win against New York City FC at Red Bull Arena broke the Crew’s two-game losing streak and was the first true road win for the Black & Gold since September of 2019. The win was thanks to the heroics of Lucas Zelarayan’s free kicks with the equalizing dead ball goal in the 82nd minute and then a curling free kick in the last second to claim the three points. Overall though, the performance wasn’t that impressive from Columbus.
Here is how each Crew player performed in the victory over New York City.
Eloy Room (7.5) - If it weren’t for Room, Columbus would have been down 4-0 at halftime and would have never had a chance to get back into the game. All three of Room’s saves were inside the penalty box and were diving efforts, as the Curaçao starter continues to impress in goal for the Black & Gold.
Harrison Afful (5) - It wasn’t Afful’s best performance on Saturday. While his pass accuracy was 89 percent and he did have three interceptions, Afful was often out of position when NYCFC went on the counter. Many times, he cheated towards the middle of the field and allowed Gudmundur Thorarinsson the entire field to run forward and get open shots or crosses.
Jonathan Mensah (6.5) - The captain was good in this contest, getting very involved in many defensive efforts. Mensah had three interceptions, four clearances and three blocked shots against New York City’s potent offense.
Josh Williams (6.5) - Williams had a similar performance as Mensah, leading the team with six clearances and had a high pass accuracy above 90 percent. However, Williams didn’t have one blocked shot at center back and he was the defender that stood in front of Ismael Tajouri-Shradi and didn’t take a step forward to get a chance at a block for his goal.
Waylon Francis (6) - Francis started once again and had an overall solid performance at left back while Milton Valenzuela continues to get healthy. Had some chances to cross and was well positioned when NYCFC got its counter going.
Darlington Nagbe (7) - Nagbe was excellent again passing the ball, missing just one pass all game. In a match where Columbus moved slowly in possession most of the time, Nagbe tried some creative sprints and runs to ignite the offense. His curling shot in particular was a good moment during the game.
Artur (5.5) - It was a night to forget for the Brazilian. Artur got a yellow card in the match and was usually a step behind the New York City attackers or midfielders whenever they got off on the counter attack. He was a step behind Tajouri-Shradi during the play Columbus conceded.
Luis Diaz (5.5) - Diaz was ineffective and showed once again a lack of composure in good crossing opportunities. The Costa Rican often one-timed crosses when he got into space and sent them to the stands. One positive for Diaz was his tenacity to hustle and recover bad passes towards his side.
Lucas Zelarayan (8.5) - Without Zelarayan, where would the Crew be? Once again, he pulled out two clutch plays that led Columbus to the win scoring two free kicks late in the game. While his set pieces were the story of the game, Zelaryan didn’t get much space to work his magic in open play. Still, another night to add the collection book of Zelarayan winning matches for the Crew.
Pedro Santos (6) - Santos had a very poor first half with multiple giveaways, a lot of early fouls that seemed out of frustration and a lack of good dribbles. The second half was a slight improvement as Santos tried a shot from distance to get the offensive momentum towards Columbus.
Gyasi Zardes (5) - The goal drought for Zardes continues with another match without a shot. He got little to no service during the game and couldn’t find the right run in order to get the final touch. Zardes did control the ball well in the last seconds to force the foul that led to Zelarayan’s winning free kick.
Liam Fraser (5) - The Canadian made his second appearance off the bench for the Black & Gold and did alright with 89 percent pass accuracy and held his ground defensively for the 33 minutes he played.
Saad Abdul-Salaam (6.5) - Abdul-Salaam was a breath of fresh air off the bench and was one of the best Crew players on the day. The new signing came on in the 57th minute and immediately prevented NYCFC counters with good awareness of bad passes and quick passes in transition. Not to mention he played both left and right back.
Alex Matan (N/A) - The Romanian had just five touches in his brief stint off the bench.
Caleb Porter (6) - The strategy for Porter continues to be getting the Crew executing its game plan. The slow possession and right-side heavy attacks didn’t work during the game but Porter told the team it’s about confidence and instilled in his players how well they pressed and controlled in the first 20 minutes. That motivated the Crew to have a purpose, a process and passion: Porter’s three things that can win you games.
Who was the Crew’s Man of the Match against New York City FC?
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