It was another memorable night at Lower.com Field on Tuesday. Those in attendance for the Columbus Crew match were treated to a fun second half show, as the Black & Gold came from 1-0 down in the final 45 minutes to equalize and grab a dramatic late winner in a 2-1 win against the New York Red Bulls.
This was a much-needed three points for the Crew, a team that came into the game losers of eight of the last nine matches. Still sitting within reach of the MLS Cup playoffs, however, Columbus needed to get wins at home and the Black & Gold accomplished that.
Let’s take a look at how the players performed in the win.
Eloy Room (6.5) - The Crew goalkeeper made a big diving save in the first half after a turnover in front of him to keep the game level at 0-0, one of two stops on the night. There wasn’t much he could do on the Red Bulls’ goal, as his defense let him down on a throw-in.
Harrison Afful (7) - Afful was one of several players that did a poor job of defending on the goal, heading the ball up instead of out, but aerial duels have never been the Ghanian’s forte. Offensively, Afful was not afraid to shoot, letting rip three times — none on target — and delivered three crosses while pushing forward frequently to give the team width.
Jonathan Mensah (7.5) - Jonathan will also take some blame on the goal, as he rushed out to close on Dru Yearwood after Afful’s header but completely missed the ball. Other than that, Jonathan was solid in his return to the side after international duty, tying for the team lead in clearances.
Vito Wormgoor (7) - It hasn’t been a consistent season for Wormgoor after returning from a serious injury, but Tuesday night was a solid performance. He shared the lead in clearances with Jonathan (5) and used his physicality well. He was also calm and composed on the ball, something that’s been an issue for the Black & Gold backline at times this year.
Pedro Santos (N/A) - Santos was involved in the game for less than a minute before he hit heads with Kyle Duncan and had to be replaced.
Darlington Nagbe (8) - It was a bit of a different game for Nagbe who only completed 88 percent of his passes — low for him — and gave the ball away four times in the midfield. But he also led the team in tackles, doing some of the dirty work. Most importantly, Nagbe was in the right place at the right time for the equalizing goal, a rare headed effort off a rebounded shot.
Marlon Hairston (6.5) - Hairston was all over the field throughout his 60 minutes on the pitch, covering a lot of ground. But the midfielder gave the ball away a few too many times, was out of place on the throw-in that led to the goal and still didn’t look entirely comfortable in the offensive third.
Luis Diaz (5.5) - The Costa Rican winger continues to pop up in good positions but is at a loss at what to do after that. He had one shot — went well wide — and one cross — which didn’t find a teammate — and spent more time on the ground than helping the Crew create chances.
Lucas Zelarayan (7.5) - The Columbus playmaker once again led all attacking players in touches and was good when on the ball. One of his four shots, two on target, led to the rebound for the winning goal and he had two key passes and led the team in crosses (12).
Derrick Etienne Jr. (6.5) - Like Diaz, Etienne was fine in getting the ball in good spots but struggled to make much of his 60 minutes on the field. He completed just one of his four crosses but did have two key passes that helped his grade.
Gyasi Zardes (7) - In his first start in nearly a month after an injury, Zardes was his typical active self, popping up all over the field to not only help the Crew attack but also defend. Dropping off the backline quite a bit, the forward didn’t get a shot off but was involved in the transition and played the give-and-go ball that led to the tying goal.
Saad Abdul-Salaam (7) - Coming in just six minutes into the match isn’t easy, especially for a player playing on the opposite side of the field than he’s used to, but Abdul-Salaam put in a good shift at left back after replacing this injured Santos. Defensively, he had two tackles and two clearances, but also got involved in the offense with one shot on goal and three accurate long balls.
Alexandru Matan (7) - Matan brought life to the Columbus attack in the second half, coming on in the 60th minute. Playing on the left, the Romanian was not afraid to dribble at defenders, which led to his shot that fell to Nagbe for the Crew’s first goal. He moved around quite a bit, getting 23 touches and two shots.
Liam Fraser (6.5) - Fraser replaced a tired Hairston in the 60th minute and put in a good shift. The Candian international completed 85 percent of his passes in the midfield and connected on one of three long balls. When Columbus shifted to a diamond formation in midfield, Frasier helped defensively with one tackle and two clearances.
Josh Williams (6.5) - As the Crew pushed forward, Williams’ fresh legs helped to prevent New York from getting much on the counter. The center back only had to make one interception but his body position was key to not letting anything come back the other way.
Miguel Berry (7.5) - The second-year player doesn’t have to do too much to have an impact. The forward is just the Black & Gold’s super-sub to provide late goals when needed, and he did it again against the Red Bulls. Berry did well to set up the goal, floating out to the flank to receiver the pass and playing a well-weighted ball to Zelarayan for the initial shot. His composure to cut the ball back after the rebound and finish looked above his years.
Bradley Wright-Phillips (6.5) - Wright-Phillips was only on the field for a matter of minutes and didn’t touch the ball, but he did make a great run to open space for Zelarayan to release the shot prior to the Berry goal.
Caleb Porter (8) - At halftime and after the game, Porter admitted that he didn’t like his team’s hunger in the first half. He let his team hear it in the locker room at the break and the group responded with a much better second half. Porter deserves credit for making the changes he did, both in terms of personnel and shape of the team, as every substitute that came on in the second half made an impact in the comeback.
Who was the Crew’s Man of the Match against New York?