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Game Grades: Crew vs. New England Revolution

Columbus hobbled out of New England with a point, literally. See how the Crew players graded out.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at New England Revolution Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Many Columbus Crew fans had low expectations coming into Saturday’s game at the New England Revolution. After all, the Revolution is the top team in Major League Soccer, who had scored more goals than any other team. On the other side, the Crew had just two wins since July 30.

Columbus defied those expectations and left New England with a point after a 1-1 draw. This was a much-needed result for a team that can’t afford to go too many games without points.

Here’s how the Crew players performed in the win.

Starters

Eloy Room (8.5) – It’s hard not to give Room a whole bunch of credit for the 1-1 scoreline. The goalkeeper was again put on an island thanks to a poor pass by center back Jonathan Mensah, allowing the lone goal of the game. Otherwise, Room ended the night with six saves, three of those coming when he was injured late with little mobility.

Saad Abdul Salaam (7) – Abdul Salaam had a solid all-around performance for the Crew. The fullback completed the most passes on the team, at a high rate of 87 percent. Defensively, he made three tackles and intercepted two New England passes. It didn’t result in any goals or assists, but Abdul-Salaam put in his best performance as a member of the Black & Gold.

Jonathan Mensah (5.5) – Mensah had an average night that would’ve been scored higher if not for one errant pass that Revolution forward Adam Buksa turned into a goal. There’s no guarantee that Columbus would have won with 30 minutes of full Revolution pressure, but the team was up 1-0 at the time.

Josh Williams (6) – The Crew backline didn’t have a bad night, allowing just one goal to the league’s highest-scoring club. With that said, the pressure from New England got past Williams and Mensah for seven shots on goal. Williams had a tough moment in the first half, passing back to Room but it was a soft one that went straight to Revolution forward Gustavo Bou.

Milton Valenzuela (6) – Valenzuela had a good return back to the starting fullback role. The Argentinian played just the first half in a match where the ball was played mostly down the right side, away from Valenzuela. On a night where the Crew only managed 39 percent possession, Valenzuela didn’t get a single cross into the penalty area.

Darlington Nagbe (8) – Nagbe returned to his usual form on Saturday. Against the Revs, Nagbe completed 95 percent of his passes, the second most on the team. Nagbe’s interception in the 58th minute also led to the lone Columbus goal of the evening. In a recent string of matches where passes seem to go either backward or laterally, Nagbe’s forward passing was a breath of fresh air.

Marlon Hairston (8) - Hairston put himself into a position to keep the starting midfield role, next to Nagbe. Hairston had a Nagbe-esque match, missing just one pass all evening and leading the team with four tackles and three interceptions.

Derrick Etienne Jr. (7) – Etienne’s play almost put the Crew up early with a cross to Gyasi Zardes. If that ball goes in, the game could have gone differently. It was a solid performance for the Haitian international.

Alexandru Matan (7.5) – The calls for Matan to get into the starting 11 more appeared to be justified in this game. Matan performed well on the left wing with the most shot-creating actions, putting his teammates in good positions to shoot. While he didn’t have a shot himself, his passing in the offensive area was on target, missing just one of 15 passes in his 60 minutes on the field.

Miguel Berry (6) – Like Matan, Berry has received praise for his play of late. Unfortunately, the performance was nothing like his highlights of late. Playing in a different formation, and without midfielder Lucas Zelarayan, Berry didn’t have the added benefit of abundant possession to increase his chances. His one shot on goal was also out of his personality.

Gyasi Zardes (7.5) – Zardes’ early miss was rectified for the lone Crew goal of the night, headin in a perfectly crossed ball into the corner of the net. Even with a good initial save by Turner, Zardes put enough on the ball to carom off the goalkeeper’s glove and into the goal.

Substitutes

Harrison Afful (7.5) – Afful played half of the match, coming on for Valenzuela in the 46th minute. Even playing only 45 minutes, Afful completed 32 passes at a 91 percent clip, the most important coming in the 58th minute on a curling cross that put the Crew ahead. Throw in a couple of tackles and the veteran put in a strong shift.

Erik Hurtado (5) – Hurtado replaced Matan in the 61st minute, just a minute before the Buksa equalizer. In the draw, Hurtado didn’t do anything poorly, but he didn’t do anything to stand out either.

Isaiah Parente (4.5) – The rookie came in for Berry in the 70th minute. In 20 minutes on the field, Parente earned a yellow card for a leglock tackle and completed only four passes out of nine. It was a tough showing in only his sixth regular season appearance of the year.

Liam Fraser (5) – Fraser played only 16 minutes and, like Parente, his passing wasn’t fantastic in the midfield. By the time Fraser came in, the Crew was not too active in possession. The final moments of the game featured a ton of pressure absorbed by Columbus. Like Hurtado, Fraser didn’t do anything to hurt the Black & Gold.

Head coach

Caleb Porter (6.5) – Porter’s formation adjustment made sense considering the Zelarayan injury and looking ahead to the remaining matches of the regular season. What was peculiar were the substitutions. It felt like bringing in Hurtado and Parente over a Bradley Wright-Phillips was with the impression that the draw was enough. A point on the road to the league’s top team is better than no points.