The Columbus Crew emerged victorious in the penultimate match at the historic Crew Stadium as the Black & Gold downed Trillium Cup rivals Toronto FC 2-1 on Saturday. The Crew had a dominant performance in the first half, finding early goals from Luis Diaz and Gyasi Zardes, but was limited to sustaining Toronto’s pressure in the second part of the match. However, the team managed to take all three points despite a goal from Ayo Akinola.
Here’s how each Crew player performed in the match:
Eloy Room (7) – The goalkeeper had a quiet match for the most part, only being called upon to intercept crosses or pick up loose balls in the penalty box. He came up big in stoppage time though with a diving save that denied Michael Bradley a late equalizer. Room only had another save to his name in the entire 90 minutes, which came right before Toronto’s goal.
Harrison Afful (7) – The right back played one of his best defensive matches this season, coming up with two tackles and four interceptions and not allowing Toronto to create much from his side. He wasn’t as offensive as usual but still managed to create chances, most notably a low cross to Zardes who missed the ball in the first half.
Vito Wormgoor (6) – The Dutch defender reappeared in central defense in Jonathan Mensah’s place and did a fine job in getting away from Toronto’s high press when in possession. He was solid for most of the match, registering four clearances, but was strangely outmuscled by Ayo Akinola on Toronto’s goal.
Josh Williams (7) – The veteran offered a reassuring presence in the center of Columbus’ defense with timely interceptions, a team-high seven clearances and a lot of calm and quality on the ball. He was dangerous on offense too with a strong header that Alex Bono saved in the second half.
Pedro Santos (7.5) – The Portuguese played out of position as a left back in his 100th MLS regular season match with the Crew and celebrated the milestone with a great performance. Santos was a constant threat on the left and assisted on both Crew goals with a smart pass that set up a fantastic counter attack to Diaz and a great cross that found Zardes in a position to score. He wasn’t as great on defense and allowed way too much space behind him on Toronto’s goal.
Artur (6) – As usual, the Brazilian wasn’t brilliant, but still extremely effective. Artur brought a lot of intensity to the Crew’s midfield and did well on both sides of the ball with two tackles, two interceptions and an 88.1 percent passing accuracy.
Darlington Nagbe © (6.5) – The veteran wore the captain’s armband in Mensah’s absence and a dig a great job in moving the ball around for Columbus. Nagbe completed 95.4 percent of his passes and pushed forward to help Lucas Zelarayan in creation at times. He starred in arguably the match’s most exciting play in which he nutmegged Michael Bradley in tight space.
Luis Diaz (7) – The Costa Rican was dangerous with his runs down the right side as usual but also wasted a few possessions on individual plays. His performance on Columbus’ opening goal was brilliant, as he moved the ball up the field really fast and showed uncommon composure in front of the post. Diaz also drew a few dangerous free kicks for the Crew.
Lucas Zelarayan (7) – The Argentinean was closely defended by Toronto’s players but still found space to link up plays and put his teammates in dangerous spots. He worked hard on defense too with three tackles and two interceptions and was dangerous, as usual, on set pieces.
Derrick Etienne Jr. (6) – Etienne was probably the least dangerous of Columbus’ offensive pieces but played an important tactical role in helping Santos on defense. The winger worked hard on and off the ball and had a couple of dangerous runs on the left flank, including the one that resulted in Zardes’ goal. He ended the match on the right side after Diaz came off.
Gyasi Zardes (6.5) – It’s clear Zardes is not at his best technical form right now but his incredible work rate oftentimes makes up for that. The striker missed a clear chance to score when he failed to make contact with the ball inside the six-yard box but a few minutes later made a hustle play to put home the team’s game-winning goal.
Jonathan Mensah (6.5) – The captain came in for Wormgoor with 20 minutes to go and helped to maintain the solidness of the Crew’s backline.
Saad Abdul-Salaam (6) – The fullback replaced Artur at the 73rd minute mark and was slotted at the left back spot and helped to keep things calm on that side of the field. He didn’t push forward too much as the Crew focused on closing the game.
Bradley Wright-Phillips (6) – The veteran played the last eight minutes in Zardes’ spot and helped the Crew keeping the ball in the attacking half of the field. Wright-Phillips connected simple but smart passes and missed a good opportunity, even though he was offside.
Alexandru Matan (N/A) – The young Romanian subbed in for Diaz in the final five minutes and his most important action was blocking a shot at the edge of Columbus’ penalty box.
Caleb Porter (6.5) – His team played a great first half, controlling the game, dominating Toronto and scoring goals in different ways. There was clear progress from previous matches but one would expect the second half to be a little more under control as the Crew failed to connect counter attacks when Toronto pushed forward.
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