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Game Grades: Crew vs. Seattle Sounders

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How the Crew players performed in a last-minute 2-1 loss to the Seattle Sounders.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Columbus Crew SC Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Columbus Crew lost sixth straight game (not counting shootout losses) after a 2-1 defeat to the Seattle Sounders at Lower.com Field on Saturday evening. The Black & Gold took the lead in the 77th minute but could not hold onto the lead as the Sounders scored in the 88th and 89th minutes to steal the victory on the road.

The loss also marks a third consecutive defeat at home for the Crew, its first such streak since the middle of 2019. The defending MLS Cup champions had a strong performance against the best team in the Western Conference but couldn’t hold onto the lead to snap its downward trajectory.

Here is how the Crew players performed in Saturday’s loss to Seattle.

Starters

Eloy Room (6.3) - The Columbus goalkeeper made his saves in the first half with all three coming in that first 45 minutes. Room once again had a highlight-worthy stop with his early tip of a Yeimar header. Alas, the last few minutes couldn’t yield the Curaçao goalkeeper a clean sheet.

Saad Abdul-Salaam (5.9) - The former Sounders defender started the game strong with a role in getting forward in the attack and helping keep possession early. The second half saw Abdul-Salaam play more defensive as Columbus tried to hold its lead. He had six recoveries and one clearance in the back.

Jonathan Mensah (C) (6.0) - The captain stepped into pockets throughout the match to prevent Raul Ruidiaz and Nicolas Lodeiro from getting open opportunities. As usual, Mensah had plenty of headed clearances (4) and was a force in the air all match. His and his teammates' efforts just fell short of holding that lead.

Vito Wormgoor (5.8) - The Dutch center back returned for the Crew and had good moments when marking Ruidiaz. Wormgoor was able to pass well out of the back but the few passes he missed almost led to gimme goals for the Sounders. Along with Nagbe, he was one of the Crew players not goal side of Arreaga for his equalizing tap-in.

Waylon Francis (6.3) - The Costa Rican had a good performance at left back with lots of action defensively. Francis’ strength in the game was in duels with five won and just two lost while also maintaining his containment of the right side of Seattle’s attack. The downside of the game for him was 76 percent pass accuracy.

Darlington Nagbe (6.4) - Nagbe completed all but two of his passes and helped drive the offense and possession forward throughout much of the match. He led the team with 11 recoveries but was unable to help the defense keep the lead late in the match. A stat that needs to go up is key passes with just one from the Crew’s No. 6.

Liam Fraser (6.0) - The Canadian had a fine day in midfield. Fraser had a pass accuracy of 84 percent to go along with on duel won out of five. He helped on the defensive side to silence a good Seattle attack for most of the game by covering pockets for Mensah and Wormgoor but the duel record certainly is something that helped the Sounders recharge in the second half.

Pedro Santos (6.6) - Santos returned to the lineup and looked lively in the Crew attack. He was able to get a long-distance shot on target and had some quick passes in the second half to generate some momentum offensively for the Crew. He had plenty of action with 16 total duels, seven of those won and was fouled four times.

Lucas Zelarayan (6.5) - The MLS Cup Most Valuable Player against the Sounders in December didn’t have a similar performance eight months later. Zelarayan made some good passes in open play and had some space to operate but Seattle defenders were able to dispose him on numerous occasions. He was dispossessed three times and only had two succeeded dribbles out of six.

Derrick Etienne Jr. (6.6) - Similar to Santos, Etienne had a busy day on the right wing. The Haitian got into open gaps to attempt three crosses while staying strong against Sounders playing in one-on-ones. The accuracy of the crosses in the 18-yard box just wasn’t there in open play for Etienne with none completed.

Miguel Berry (6.0) - It was a productive 65 minutes for the Crew’s young striker. Berry had a tall task going against MLS All-Star defender Yeimar but held strong when going against his physicality. He just wasn’t able to get any chances to score.

Substitutes

Bradley Wright-Phillips (7.0) - It was a big day for the Crew’s veteran striker as he scored his first goal of the MLS season. Wright-Phillips was unmarked on a corner and had the ball fall into his lap from seven yards out and kept calm to slot it home. The question will be whether Wright-Phillips can build on that goal with Gyasi Zardes out for multiple weeks.

Luis Diaz (6.2) - Diaz returned to play and provided that fifth gear of speed down the wings for the Crew in the last 18 minutes. He got to long balls to earn Columbus corners, including the one that led to the goal. Diaz was looked at by trainers after a hard fall in the penalty box that seemed to re-aggravate his right shoulder injury.

Kevin Molino (N/A) - Molino entered the match in the 90th minute but had little to no impact.

Head Coach

Caleb Porter (6.7) - Gameplan-wise, the Crew shut Seattle down for most of the game. The Sounders are a second half team and for a little over 40 of those minutes the Black & Gold kept its defensive discipline and concentration. Porter had the offense pass more vertically in the game which helped to engineer faster offense. Despite the efforts, Crew has nothing to show for it with still a small amount of shots on target.