For the second time in two Major League Soccer games, the Columbus Crew earned a 0-0 draw, this time against CF Montreal on the “road” in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It’s not the ideal start to the 2021 MLS season, but given the effort being put into CONCACAF Champions League, the Black & Gold could be in a worse spot than 0-0-2.
In this game, head coach Caleb Porter elected to rotate several players from the group that earned a 2-2 draw against FC Monterrey at home on Wednesday. Those fresh legs, however, were nearly negated by the heat in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday afternoon. This made for a fairly lethargic game for the visitors.
With that in mind, let’s see how each player performed in the scoreless draw.
Eloy Room (c) (7.5) - Wearing the captain’s armband for the injured Jonathan Mensah once again this year, the Crew goalkeeper posted his fourth shutout in five games in 2021. Room was only forced to make three saves but was active off his line and vocal to the defense in front of him, a group that hadn’t played together much for the Black & Gold.
Waylon Francis (7) - After a disappointing performance coming off the bench in the midweek, Francis looked much more like the player that was an MLS All-Star in 2015 for Columbus than the reserve left back the 30 year old has become. Francis had four interceptions and four clearances in this game and completed 82.5 percent of his passes in his first 90-minute performance of the MLS season.
Vito Wormgoor (7) - In his first game in nearly a year after suffering a broken ankle last July, Wormgoor had a bright performance for the Crew. The center back showcased his physical nature that the Black & Gold missed at times last year. He also cleared the ball four times while intercepting it once and blocking a shot.
Aboubacar Keita (7) - The young defender continues his development with a new center back partner. Keita blocked four shots and cleared two others to help Columbus earn a second straight MLS shutout and connected on eight of his 11 long balls, something he is not known for doing.
Harrison Afful (6.5) - Afful had an up-and-down performance against Montreal, struggling in possession early and giving the ball away out of the back too many times. He settled into the match but — likely due to playing on Wednesday and the heat — was not active enough getting forward, only attempting one cross in 45 minutes.
Isaiah Parente - (6) Making his first MLS start, Parente completed 89.5 percent of his passes but wasn’t on the ball enough, and didn’t move it quickly enough when he was, for a player playing in the center of the park. For a rookie, it was good to see him get 61 minutes in an MLS match, but Porter will want to see more from Parente going forward.
Darlington Nagbe (6.5) - Nagbe did a lot of the things that make him one of the best central midfielders in MLS in this game, completing 100 percent of his passes, for instance. But the Ohio native wasn’t involved enough offensively in his 45 minutes and didn’t help the Crew create anything in a game that needed someone to grab it by the scruff and have a moment of magic.
Derrick Etienne (6) - In a game where the Black & Gold were on the back foot for long portions because they couldn’t move the ball quickly enough to get out of their own defensive half, Etienne was pinned back for his 76 minutes on the pitch. The winger had just 31 touches and two crosses.
Lucas Zelarayan (6.5) - Like with Nagbe, this game was screaming for one of Columbus’ stars to create something out of nothing. Zelarayan, who cannot play on Wednesday due to yellow card accumulation, played 90 minutes but had just one shot and no key passes.
Pedro Santos (6) - Similar to Etienne, Santos wasn’t involved enough on the wings offensively. He had no crosses but did connect on three of his six long balls. It was a surprise to see Santos play 90 minutes given he is expected to be a key figure against Monterrey midweek.
Bradley Wright-Phillips (6.5) - In a game where the ball wasn’t in the Crew’s offensive third often, Wright-Phillips did enough to stay active and try and create something for the Black & Gold. He got on the ball 29 times and while he wasn’t credited with a shot, did have a nice goal that was called back for offside.
Saad Abdul-Salaam (6) - Coming on at halftime for Afful, Abdul-Salaam made his Columbus debut in uninspiring fashion. While he did block four shots in 45 minutes, the right back only completed 76.2 percent of his passes and attempted one cross.
Artur (6.5) - The Brazilian midfielder was brought on for Nagbe to begin the second half. He too completed all of his passes but, like the rest of the central midfielders, wasn’t able to move the ball quickly enough or help create a chance to grab a winner.
Josh Williams (6.5) - Coming on for Wormgoor after 59 minutes, Williams had one tackle and three clearances in his time on the field. In typical fashion, Williams helped keep things organized at the back in order to preserve a point.
Luis Diaz (6.5) - After running up and down the flank on Wednesday, Diaz was asked to do the same in this match but in just 29 minutes. He managed to complete all seven of his passes and fire two shots off the bench.
Alexandru Matan (6.5) - In his first substantial minutes with the Crew, Matan came on for Etienne in the 76th minute. He created the best chance of the game, playing Wright-Phillips through on goal. Unfortunately, he waited for just a split second too long and the striker was offside.
Caleb Porter (6.5) - The plan coming into the game for the Black & Gold was to rotate and still try and get a win. Due to the rotation, Porter expected his team to be more active than the players, but the heat certainly played a part, derailing that plan. He admitted after the game that the effort wasn’t good enough but getting a road point is better than a road loss.
Who was the Crew’s man of the match against Montreal?
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