It was a huge Saturday afternoon for the Columbus Crew as the Black & Gold silenced 67,000 fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium with a 1-0 win against Atlanta United. The victory extends the Crew’s unbeaten run to six straight as Jonathan Mensah’s second-half header got the second road win of the 2021 season.
Columbus played in a new formation but played with the same style we have seen throughout the 2021 season. The Black & Gold showed grit and grind again to do whatever it takes to get a result.
Here is how the Crew performed in the road win against Atlanta.
Eloy Room (8.5) - The Curaçao international has simply been the Crew’s best player over the past week. Once again, Room made spectacular saves with five total in the match to keep his second straight clean sheet. The saves he made earned Columbus these points.
Saad Abdul-Salaam (8.0) - Abdul-Salaam was strong in defense once again as he continues proving how vital a signing he was by Columbus. He didn’t have a lot of offense going down the right side but he was able to control his side of the pitch the whole game.
Jonathan Mensah © (9.0) - It was the Crew captain’s best game of the season and one of the best games any defender has had in MLS in 2021. Mensah was impenetrable in the back and had a league-high 14 clearances in the game coupled with his first MLS goal since 2018. The Ghanian was the man of the match.
Aboubacar Keita (8.0) - The young Keita is getting better and better with each passing game he plays. His passing accuracy was superb at 85 percent and he read Atlanta’s crosses perfectly to get clearances and prevent Josef Martinez’s from getting many touches in the penalty box.
Pedro Santos (8.0) - Another game where Santos was great at left back. Santos did everything in the match as he provided the width from the left side in the 4-4-2 formation. He got shot, tackles, clearances and looked like a stalwart defender in Atlanta.
Kevin Molino (7.5) - It was the strongest game in Black & Gold yet for Molino. He played an inverted winger role and was part of the build-up on some great first half chances for Columbus. Molino provided necessary defensive coverage as well to contribute to the clean sheet.
Darlington Nagbe (7.5) - The former Five Stripes midfielder returned to his old stomping grounds and showed his range of midfield skills with 94 percent pass accuracy, winning duels and organizing the midfield line.
Marlon Hairston (8.5) - The midfielder got the assist on Mensah’s goal to go along with missing just one of his 30 passes, provided multiple clearances from the back and going forward to make runs into open space. Hairston is quickly becoming a solid piece for Columbus in central midfield.
Alexandru Matan (6.5) - The young Romanian put in yet another productive shift for the Crew. Matan only played the first half but was active on the wing, dribbling past any United defender in his way.
Erik Hurtado (6.0) - The new Crew striker will mainly be remembered for his open miss in the first half. Hurtado made smart runs in the half he played but will certainly want that shot back. He’ll get other chances to get that goal with the Black & Gold.
Bradley Wright-Phillips (6.5) - The veteran Englishman dropped a bit deep to support the overlaps of the fullbacks and wingers and looked good in creation. Wright-Phillips only had one shot but showed his effectiveness as a chance-creating striker.
Lucas Zelarayan (6.5) - Zelarayan came off the bench and had a positive impact. He was able to get involved in the offense early in the second half and played the corner kick right to the near post to start the goal-scoring play.
Derrick Etienne Jr. (6.0) - The Haitian winger played the whole second half and had a fine performance. He helped hold the lead while not getting as many touched in the attacking third.
Waylon Francis (6.5) - Francis made some massive tackles as Atlanta began pressing forward for the equalizer as well as some good clearances from the Costa Rican contributed to the clean sheet.
Miguel Berry (6.5) - The striker looked confident on the ball in his short time on the pitch. Berry executed a nice play taking the ball to the corner flag and dribbling past a defender to get a shot that hit the post.
Perry Kitchen (N/A) - Kitchen was brought on for late defensive help in the midfield line.
Caleb Porter (8.5) - The Crew head coach got his tactics spot on for this match. The 4-4-2 was the right formation to use in order to actively get good transitions on the counter, something United’s defense struggled with all match. It was a gutsy move to play a new formation and Porter picked exactly the right players of those available to make it work for a big road win.
Who was Crew’s man of the match against Atlanta?
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