A Gyasi Zardes brace helped Columbus Crew give historic Crew Stadium a perfect send off as the Black & Gold defeated the Chicago Fire 2-0 on Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd in their last match played in the stadium.
It was a dominant performance from the Crew, which never lost control of the match and secured their fourth win of the 2021 Major League Soccer season ahead of moving to Lower.com Field on July 3.
Here is how each Crew player performed in their final match at the Historic Crew Stadium:
Evan Bush (7) – The veteran goalkeeper played his first minutes in a Crew uniform and didn’t have a lot of work as the Black & Gold managed to keep the Fire under control for most of the match. His most important play was probably catching a low cross sent Robert Beric’s way early in the second half.
Harrison Afful (7) – The fullback did a good job in combining with Etienne on the right and coming inside at times to give the winger room to operate close to the sidelines. He was really solid defensively too, not allowing Ignacio Aliseda much room to work and registering a team-high four interceptions and three clearances.
Jonathan Mensah © (8) – The captain was tremendous in the first half with a pair of important defensive actions and the inch-perfect long ball that found Etienne free just in front of Chicago’s penalty box on the play that resulted in Columbus’ second goal. Jonathan didn’t miss a step in the second part of the match and led the Crew to its third clean sheet in the season.
Josh Williams (7) – The Ohio native had a goal disallowed early on and played a good match alongside Jonathan. Williams was clean on the ball as usual and ended the match with three tackles, three clearances and three interceptions. He did a great job in recovering on a play with Nnamdi Offor in the first half.
Pedro Santos (8) – The Portuguese had to fill in at the left back spot once again before switching back to the wing for the final 20 minutes and delivered another strong performance. Santos was always an offensive option on the left side of the field and took good care of his defensive duties too, tallying a team-high seven tackles to go with five clearances. His most important defensive play was an important tackle on Fabian Herbers inside Crew’s penalty box in the first half.
Liam Fraser (7.5) – The young Canadian got his first start with the Crew and played a really solid game. Fraser did good defensive work with two tackles and five clearances, helped to head balls away from the Crew penalty box and had good distribution. He could have capped off a strong performance with a goal on one of his rare runs up field, but seemed not to believe a cross from Etienne would find him in the six-yard box.
Darlington Nagbe (7) – The midfielder had somewhat of a quiet night to his standards as he wasn’t on the ball as much as usual. When he was in possession, Nagbe did well with his efficient distribution and his ability to break Chicago’s press, but not many of his best plays happened in the attacking half.
Derrick Etienne Jr. (8) – Intense is probably the right word to describe the winger’s first half as he risked been sent off in a scuffle with Miguel Angel Navarro but absolutely terrorized the Venezuelan with his runs down the right. He was great in timing his run, was so unselfish to assist Zardes on his second goal and sent a great cross to the striker a few minutes later. He kept the chances coming on the second half before he was subbed off at the 70th minute mark.
Lucas Zelarayan (7) – The Argentinean did his job connecting Columbus’ offense but was less involved in the final product than usual. Outside of recovering a ball just outside Chicago’s penalty box and shooting over the goal, he wasn’t too dangerous. He had more chances to use his dribbling ability in the second half, when the Fire opened up more, but couldn’t really materialize a good opportunity.
Alexandru Matan (7) – The Romanian wasn’t involved much in the first half as the Crew pushed more from the right but still found the opportunity to make a couple of plays on his own. On one of them, he dribbled a defender inside the box but put too much power on his finish. Matan still had his ups and downs but he’s showing more confidence and better chemistry with his teammates.
Gyasi Zardes (8.5) – The striker was at the right place at the right time to score the opening goal after a corner kick and had a fairly easier job to put the second one in the back of the net with a tap in after a pass from Etienne. He could have ended the first half with a hat trick but mistimed his run and couldn’t finish a great cross from Etienne. In the second half, Zardes managed to adapt his game and be a good option in transition too.
Waylon Francis (6.5) – The Costa Rican played for the last 30 minutes, replacing Matan, and helped the backline in keeping the Fire’s attackers under control. Francis didn’t push forward too much but had a decent contribution to the team’s overall performance.
Kevin Molino (6.5) – The Crew’s major offseason signing finally made his debut for the club and was on the field for the final 20 minutes. The winger didn’t have a lot of opportunities to showcase his 1 v. 1 game but demonstrated his skills in some specific plays and did a good job in slowing the game down when needed.
Saad Abdul-Salaam (N/A) – The fullback came in for Santos with only three minutes to go.
Caleb Porter (8) – His team came out firing on all cylinders, built a comfortable early lead and never lost control of the game against a weaker Fire team. He did some admirable work without some important players such as Eloy Room, Milton Valenzuela, Artur and Luis Diaz and got great contributions from bench players, which is always important. He’s getting more options to work with as Molino is finally available and Matan and Fraser seem better adjusted and that should only make the Crew stronger going forward.
Who Was the Crew Man of the Match Against the Chicago Fire?
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Derrick Etienne Jr.