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Game Grades: Crew vs. FC Cincinnati

Here is how the Crew players performed in a massive comeback in Cincinnati.

Syndication: The Enquirer Zane Meyer-Thornton/The Enquirer via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Well, that was some Hell is Real Derby. The Columbus Crew completed one of the great comebacks in MLS history, fighting back from a 2-0 deficit and with 10-men to earn a point at FC Cincinnati’s TQL Stadium with 11 players missing from the Black & Gold squad.

The game had it all with a great atmosphere adding energy to a match that included goals, cards, drama and some classic rivalry banter. It was a match that can ignite the flames of the future of the Hell is Real Derby with FCC coming to Columbus on Aug. 27 with the team’s blood boiling from Friday’s blown lead.

Here is how the Crew players performed in the massive comeback.


Evan Bush (5.5) – FC Cincinnati registered only three shots on target with two of them going past Bush. The MLS veteran made one save in his second game with Columbus, facing very little pressure. Surprisingly, Bush led the game in saves made with Cincinnati goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer making zero.

Harrison Afful (4.0) – It’s hard to come out of a game with high marks after getting a red card. In the 42 minutes Afful was on the pitch, he received two yellow cards leading to a red, completed 77 percent of his passes and wasn’t able to get forward much. The Ghanaian is suspended for the Crew’s next match at home against New York City FC.

Jonathan Mensah © (5.5) – The Crew captain led the defense to another second half clean sheet after conceding two early goals. Mensah did commit multiple early fouls and at one point it seemed like he received three yellow cards. He quickly rebounded after an aggressive first half and had just the last few minutes of the match to defend the draw.

Vito Wormgoor (4.5) - It wasn’t a great showing from the Dutch center back who once again couldn’t close down attackers early. Wormgoor was beaten on the wing 20 seconds into the match by Luciano Acosta and on the second goal was beaten on a quick turn by Isaac Atanga to open up Acosta’s goal. He was subbed off after 57 minutes.

Waylon Francis (5.5) - Francis once again will see a bulk of play after news of Milton Valenzuela’s injury sidelining him for four to six weeks. The Costa Rican didn’t show much going forward in the first half and was substituted off after 57 minutes.

Perry Kitchen (6.0) - In his first game since April 18, Kitchen had an average performance. He completed 93 percent of his passes in his 45 minutes and helped to retain possession for the Crew to kill off Cincinnati’s early momentum.

Marlon Hairston (6.5) - Hairston took the role of center midfield for another match and completed all of his passes. He also won seven duels in the match to earn the ball back for the Crew in his longest and strongest shift in Black & Gold.

Pedro Santos (6.5) - In 90 minutes, Santos showed off his positional versatility as he played on the wing, in midfield and at left back. He helped in the attack with four completed dribbles and defending well when called upon with a 75 percent tackle success rate. That first goal still eludes him after 12 games in the 2021 season.

Darlington Nagbe (7.0) - As the Crew’s No. 10, Nagbe had more freedom to attack and run forward and had to when Columbus went down a goal after 30 seconds. He missed just two passes, always ran into the gaps in midfield to generate positive play and won eight duels in central midfield when he dropped deep.

Alexandru Matan (6.5) - The Romanian was fun to watch in Friday’s match. Matan’s close-quarter dribbling was fantastic and he showed ability to dribble past MLS defenders. It’s only a matter of time before he can get on the stat sheet with a goal or assist.

Lucas Zelarayan (9.0) - Caleb Porter called his Argentine playmaker “the best-attacking player in MLS” after this game. He has a great case to make after Zelarayan orchestrated the comeback for the Crew. He scored from 30 yards out with a world-class shot and his through ball to Miguel Berry was inch-perfect to the equalizer. If his shot off the crossbar is half a millimeter lower, we’re talking about a Crew victory.


Saad Abdul-Salaam (6.0) - Abdul-Salaam stepped in to play right back when the Crew moved into a 4-4-1 formation with 10 men. The former Cincinnati player didn’t have too many touches in his second half of play. If Afful’s suspension for next game holds up, Abdul-Salaam will likely step in to start.

Miguel Berry (8.0) - Talk about a dream start to your MLS career. Berry was called upon off the bench with the Crew missing its star striker Gyasi Zardes and in one moment, Berry became a Black & Gold hero. The 2020 MLS SuperDraft pick out of San Diego showed excellent spatial awareness and composure for his first MLS goal to earn the point for Columbus.

Aboubacar Keita (6.5) - Keita was brought in for some extra defending and speed in the back in the 57th minute. In the few attacking moments Cincy had in the second 45 minutes, Keita did not let Acosta beat him in a foot race.

Erik Hurtado (6.5) - Columbus’ newest signing made his first appearance less than 24 hours after arriving in Ohio. Hurtado looked strong when defending and had one sequence of dribbling that showed his tenacity when attacking. He worked hard off the bench and will get chances for more minutes with Zardes gone.

Isaiah Parente (6.0) - Parente played 15 minutes as a substitute with a 50 percent pass accuracy and just 12 touches. It was his first appearance for the Crew since May 12.

Head Coach

Caleb Porter (8.5) - Very few coaches in word football can say their team came back from a multiple-goal deficit down a man. Porter is now one of the coaches that can claim that accolade. His style of possession play for his teams makes it easier to play with 10 men and he told the Crew players that the mentality down a man shouldn’t be a defeated one. How often does a team dominate a game after getting a red card? Porter knows it’s not often and he was immensely proud of his players.

And then he did this:


Who was the Crew’s Man of the Match against Cincinnati?

This poll is closed

  • 96%
    Lucas Zelarayan
    (91 votes)
  • 3%
    Miguel Berry
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Darlington Nagbe
    (0 votes)
94 votes total Vote Now