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Games Grades: Crew vs. Chicago Fire

Here is how the Crew players performed in a 1-0 loss to the Chicago Fire.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Chicago Fire Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

It was another evening to forget for the Columbus Crew after a 1-0 defeat to the Chicago Fire at Soldier Field, the club’s fourth consecutive loss. It’s the first time since 2014 that a defending MLS Cup champion has had a losing streak of four games with the Black & Gold’s long run of form at just two wins in the last 11 matches.

Despite the defeat, Columbus did improve and played much better than in the team’s recent losses at home at Lower.com Field. The Crew held possession longer and kept its shape in defense to avoid going a fourth straight match conceding three goals and held the Fire scoreless for 77 minutes. Alas, Chicago capitalized on one opportunity as the Black & Gold defense appealed for a handball and the losing streak kept going.

Here is how the Crew players performed in a rather monotonous match.

Starters

Eloy Room (6.5) - When called upon, Room made some big saves. The goalkeeper had five in total for the match to show once again how crucial he is to the Crew having success on the pitch.

Saad Abdul-Salaam (6.5) - The April signing for Columbus got another start at right back and had a good performance. He helped keep the compact shape for much of the match while winning tackles, getting plenty of touches and had eight recoveries in defense.

Jonathan Mensah (c) (6.5) - The recent Ghana call-up had a busy night in the Windy City. Mensah had one giveaway in the first half in his own half but rebounded after that with five duels won, eight clearances, two blocks, three interceptions and six recoveries.

Aboubacar Keita (6.0) - The young American center back returned to the starting 11 and kept things simple all match. Keita completed 60 of his 64 passes while keeping compact with Mensah in the backline to keep the defensive shape. He helped as well with six clearances and six duels won.

Waylon Francis (6.0) - The Costa Rican left back stepped back into the lineup to allow Santos to move up the field as a winger. Francis didn’t have many issues on his side of the field and per usual, defended well when called upon. It helped that Chicago’s attack wasn’t very dynamic much of the match.

Darlington Nagbe (6.0) - Nagbe did complete nearly all his passes and recovered well in possession, which is expected of the midfielder in every game. He got an early shot off that just went wide but was dispossessed in his own half. Still, it was a good performance from the Crew’s No. 6.

Liam Fraser (6.0) - Another start for Fraser saw him move back up the field back to his natural midfield spot. He dropped deep to help the backline akin to what fans see Artur do and was efficient in his defensive moments. Similar to the rest of the Crew defenders and midfielders, it was an average to good performance for the Canadian.

Derrick Etienne Jr. (6.5) - The Haitian winger was called upon after the injury to Luis Diaz and is likely to give Kevin Molino some rest during this busy stretch of matches. Etienne was noticeable on the right wing in the attack, getting plenty of space to operate with two shots in the game.

Lucas Zelarayan (6.0) - The MLS All-Star had an interesting match. Zelarayan kept dropping deeper and deeper to get possession and when he had the ball, tried to do most everything himself. He had 11 attempted dribbles with five being successful and lost 13 of his 19 total duels. MLS defenses have targeted Zelarayan all season and will continue to do.

Pedro Santos (6.0) - The Crew’s lone Portuguese player was back on offense and like Etienne, was able to get plenty of action on the wings. The difference was a lower pass accuracy at 69 percent and no crosses from the left side.

Gyasi Zardes (6.0) - Since his return from the Gold Cup, Zardes has seen very little of the ball for the Black & Gold. In Chicago, he had one shot, which gives the Crew striker a total of two in the last three games. Zardes is key to the offense’s success and he said that the attack needs to create more going forward.

Substitutes

Kevin Molino (5.5) - Molino played 21 minutes off the bench and had a couple of touches in the attack and a shot blocked during a stoppage time scramble.

Alexandru Matan (5.5) - The Romanian played six minutes as a substitute and registered the only shot on target for the Crew in his short time on the pitch.

Bradley Wright-Phillips (N/A) - Wright-Phillips played in stoppage time and almost scored off a strange deflection.

Head Coach

Caleb Porter (5.5) - Defensively this match was an improvement for the Crew with a compact backline and midfield. The defense kept its shape and had a performance that should gain the group's confidence.

However, the attack was once again not efficient with just the one Matan shot on goal out of 12 total. Porter is looking for more chemistry and better decision-making from the offensive players. The Black & Gold controlled good portions of the match but missed the final ball and shot to get on the board.