The Columbus Crew got off the mark with the team’s first win of the 2021 Major League Soccer season. Columbus defeated D.C. United 3-1 at historic Crew Stadium, including own goals from Fredric Brillant and Tony Alfaro. The Crew now has five points after its first three games and keeps its unbeaten record in the league.
Here is how the Black & Gold players performed in the team’s first victory in MLS play.
Eloy Room (6) - Room didn’t have too much to do in Saturday’s game with United with just two shots on target. He saved one of them but the other one went in from former Crew striker Ola Kamara. The shot was unsavable as the Columbus defense stopped in its tracks assuming Kamara was offside when he was onside.
Harrison Afful (7) - The Columbus right back had the freedom to roam throughout as he ran into spaces and got more advanced during the course of the game. Afful had over 80 percent pass accuracy and won six of his nine duels he faced when D.C. attackers ran at him. His aggressiveness was good throughout the match.
Jonathan Mensah (c) (7) - The captain once again was excellent for Columbus with a typical well-positioned game, clearing the ball out and winning one on ones against on-running attackers. Mensah actually had four shots in the game, most of them coming from headers off of corner kicks to go along with 85 percent pass accuracy.
Josh Williams (7) - Williams was also excellent for the Crew, matching his center back partner with six clearances and was immensely accurate when timing his tackles.
Waylon Francis (7.5) - According to his head coach, Waylon Francis was the Crew’s man of the match. The Costa Rican left back started his third straight game with Milton Valenzuela still out with a hamstring injury. Francis led the shut down of D.C.’s best attacking threat in Julian Gressel and was always actively getting touches whenever the ball got to that left side.
Darlington Nagbe (7) - Nagbe proved once again he is the catalyst in dictating the pace of play for the Crew, especially against a high press. He dropped very deep onto the backline during the first half and has another game with over 95 percent pass accuracy. Nagbe stayed on the ball and was strong in his position in an important win for the Crew.
Artur (7) - It was another 90 minutes for Artur and another good full match from the Brazilian. Artur has had to play in a neutral role with a mix of pushing forward and staying strong in defense. He led the team with six tackles and had a seamless game in the center of the park.
Luis Diaz (6.5) - The speedy Diaz found a ton of space on the right to run towards the penalty box and get crosses in but for the first 45 minutes, his crosses didn’t find any of his teammates. The highlights of the game for Diaz were his good dribbling moves in one-on-ones situations and his great ball to switch field that led to Columbus’ second goal of the game.
Lucas Zelarayan (7.5) - For the second consecutive season, Zelarayan scored the first goal for the Crew and it was a beauty. His free kick curled into the net from 23 yards out for the goal of the game. Zelarayan also fulfilled his quota of sending defenders to the floor with some close-quarter dribbling along with forcing fouls.
Pedro Santos (6.5) - With a lot of the attack coming from the right side in the first half, Santos didn’t have too many touches in the opening 45 minutes. Things opened up on the left side in the second half where Santos had a solid showing. His first touches were consistent throughout the match but his dangerous crosses in the second half helped to get the offense back into a groove.
Bradley Wright-Phillips (6) - Wright-Phillips did not score in his first home MLS start for the Black & Gold but he offered a lot of help in the attack throughout his 57 minutes on the pitch. The forward dropped deep and used himself as an outlet in the middle to generate overlapping runs and had better connections with Zelarayan in the offensive third.
Own Goal (10) - This has to be the man of the match as Own Goal had a brace in today’s game. United defenders knocked the ball in twice for the Crew with the top scorer for the Black & Gold being Own Goal with two goals. 10 out of 10 performance. Just complete brilliance from Goal.
Gyasi Zardes (5.5) - Zardes’ came on in the 57th minute and got into some dangerous areas that made United defenders concerned, so concerned that they put the ball in the net for Zardes twice in the second half as the American striker continues to recover from a shoulder injury he received on April 28.
Derrick Etienne Jr. (5.5) - Etienne played 25 minutes in Saturday’s match and didn’t have too much action. Much like Diaz, Etienne did find plenty of space on the right side to roam and run towards the goal. He had one play where he almost got a cross into Zardes for a goal, but his cross was blocked.
Alexandru Matan (N/A) - For the second time this season, Matan came on as a substitute during stoppage time. He played for one minute.
Caleb Porter (7) - Porter had his squad passing quickly out of transition and playing with overlapping runs against the five defenders D.C. played. The execution offensively was the best we have seen from the team in an MLS game to go along with good load management from Porter. It will be a tough stretch for the Black & Gold upcoming with three consecutive road matches on the horizon.
Who was the Crew’s man of the match against D.C. United?
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