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Game Grades: Crew vs. FC Monterrey

Monterrey played Columbus on Wednesday. Here’s how the Black & Gold’s performances were graded

Monterrey v Columbus Crew - Concacaf Champions League 2021 Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images

It’s an understatement to say that the Columbus Crew’s Wednesday night didn’t go as planned. The team traveled to CF Monterrey and lost 3-0, something Columbus had not done since November of 2020 – they lost a match. It’s even further back that they lost by more than a goal.

There’s a lot to be said about the skill and ability of Rayados, but what about the individual performances of the Black & Gold? Here’s how each player stacked up, in the CONCACAF Champions League exit.

Starters

Eloy Room (6) - For as poorly as the scoreboard looked for Columbus, without Room, it would have been far worse as the goalkeeper had eight saves on 11 shots on goal. Looking at the goals Room did give up, the first happened because of a diving save turned deflection. The one goal that went in that Room looked awkward on was the 71st minute rocket free kick goal by Miguel Layún. As the ball floated over the wall and curled into the top right corner, Room made no effort at stopping the shot. It would have needed to be a really amazingly timed attempt if it were stopped.

Waylon Francis (5) - Francis didn’t have the best first 10 minutes of the match. On the third minute Maxi Meza goal, the fullback was in the best position to clear the ball. Unfortunately, his reaction time wasn’t as fast as Meza’s, who sat waiting on the deflection. Moments later, Francis also gave up a ball after Rayados pressed the Crew defense. Columbus never got into a rhythm and aside from a couple of crosses, one that drifted into an almost goal, and Francis didn’t get many opportunities to deliver.

Jonathan Mensah (c) (5) - There was a lot said about a better Leg 1 performance if Mensah was healthy, so expectations were high for Leg 2. His presence on the field didn’t make a big difference for Columbus. The composure that Crew supporters are used to with Mensah wasn’t present against the relentless Monterrey game plan. His worst moment came in the 19th minute when the center back gave up the ball in a dangerous area, and only a kick save by Room stopped it from turning into a larger lead.

Josh Williams (6) - The other center back position didn’t fare much better. Williams did a good job of limiting mistakes and played more consistently than anyone else on the defense. In the 26th minute, Williams was part of giving up a goal that likely should have been a foul against Rayados after tangling with Vincent Janssen. The whistle never met the referee’s lips and it turned into a second Meza goal.

Harrison Afful (5) - Afful played with his usual energy. He did well to disrupt Monterrey for the first few minutes, but like many players for Columbus, he kind of disappeared for his remaining 55 minutes. In the 25th minute, Afful’s giveaway in the defensive third turned into a Monterrey shot on goal.

Artur (5) - The Brazilian midfielder distributed well but lacked patience with the ball. In the first half, he had one opportunity in the final third on a shot that didn’t have much in terms of power. Shortly before being substituted, Artur gave the ball away in Columbus’ defensive area. It didn’t turn into a goal for Rayados but was one of many examples on the night of Columbus players not handling the pressure brought by Monterrey.

Darlington Nagbe (6) - Nagbe had a Nagbe-esque night. He connected on passes, held possession and found outlets for the team to move through. Unfortunately, that’s where the strength in passing ended for the Crew. Nagbe was held to the midfield for the 68 minutes he played.

Derrick Etienne Jr. (5.5) - Etienne had a quiet first half of the match. His best opportunity, came when the winger got possession in the Monterrey penalty area, but had no target to receive the cross. Defensively, he disrupted passing lanes and wasn’t part of giving up any goals directly. His tenacity on and off the ball turned into a few skirmishes with Monterrey players, which gave Black & Gold supporters a small element of entertainment in an otherwise difficult match to watch.

Pedro Santos (5) - In the 74 minutes that Santos played, his biggest contribution was on corner kicks. He curled in two strong corners early, but Columbus couldn’t get on the end to put in a goal. Santos did earn the Crew a free kick at midfield and a Monterrey yellow card, but was held from any distribution or forward offensive movement.

Luis Diaz (6) - For stretches of the match, Diaz gave an effort on the field, compared to teammates. Unfortunately, his movement was often met with two or three Rayados players. Diaz never got past the Monterrey defense but showed better decision-making and composure than in Leg 1.

Gyasi Zardes (5) - Soon after Monterrey went up 1-0, Columbus had its best chance of the match to score. Zardes got on the end of a dangerous cross but his header softly went wide. In the eighth minute, he had another opportunity when he received a pass at the corner of the box but took too hard of a first touch. Monterrey’s goalkeeper deflected the ball back to Zardes, whose momentum turned into a ball that needed saved.

Defensively, Zardes did his part on corner kicks, heading the ball. Just before halftime, Zardes had his final opportunity of the night, but he headed the ball over the net.

Substitutes

Bradley Wright-Phillips (5) - Wright-Phillips replaced Zardes at the half but didn’t get many opportunities to bring the match closer. Monterrey’s five defenders on the backline never saw Wright-Phillips get an opportunity to change Columbus’ goal total.

Alexandru Matan (5) - A potential silver lining was more minutes for the new attacking midfielder. Unfortunately, Matan’s presence wasn’t felt on the field. For his efforts, the Romanian received the studs of a Monterrey boot into the top of his foot.

Saad Abdul-Salaam (5) - Abdul-Salaam came in for Afful but didn’t change the match for the Black & Gold positively or negatively. Without much in the attack, Abdul-Salaam and the Crew defense was largely pinned back.

Isaiah Parente (5) - The young Homegrown player came into the match for Nagbe in the 68th minute. He was active during his time on the pitch but committed a needless foul that led to Monterrey’s third goal.

Miguel Berry (N/A) Berry came into the match after it became 3-0, replacing Santos in the 74th minute. There was not much to report on the inexperienced forward.

Head Coach

Caleb Porter (6.5) Porter would be the first person to say that Columbus didn’t lose just because midfielder Lucas Zelarayan and fullback Milton Valenzuela were out. He put his best players on the field and used substitutes earlier than usual, in an attempt to bring energy into the match. In the final 10 minutes, the television audience could hear Porter telling the team to keep their shape and get the ball forward. Although the body language on the field didn’t react to it, Porter never gave up in the match.

Poll

Who was the Crew’s man of the match against Monterrey?

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    Eloy Room
    (8 votes)
  • 12%
    Josh Williams
    (3 votes)
  • 29%
    Darlington Nagbe
    (7 votes)
  • 25%
    Luis Diaz
    (6 votes)
24 votes total Vote Now