Losers of the past two matches, the Columbus Crew hoped that returning home would provide a lift to get back to scoring and winning ways. That was not the case however against Orlando City SC at Lower.com Field. Ninty minutes, two goals allowed and none scored has the Black & Gold searching for answers as they try and turn out of this early season nose dive.
Here’s how the Crew players performed in the 2-0 loss to the Lions.
Eloy Room (5.0) – Poor defensive organization was the story of Columbus this week and Room bears the brunt of the blame for the poor organization. While it could be argued that there was nothing he could have done to stop the first goal, it looked like he had poor positioning on the second which allowed him to be beaten near post.
Pedro Santos (5.0) – Teams seemed to have scouted out Santos’ strengths playing out of the back as a left back and know that he is vulnerable in transition. Santos continues to do an excellent job pushing forward, particularly when Orlando dropped deep after the second goal, but a lack of clean deliveries into the penalty box and his failure to put a shot on target continue to limit his utility on the offensive end.
Jonathan Mensah (5.0) – The Crew’s captain has to bear some of the responsibility for the overall poor performance of the team. While the Black & Gold came out with intensity, this dropped off as the game went on. Mensah himself had some decent clearances and was the strongest player for the team on the backline, but he failed to effectively organize the squad on set pieces.
Milos Degenek (4.0) – Degenek probably bears the most blame for the first goal allowed, as he had a clear opportunity to head the ball away before it reached Rodrigo Schlegel who tapped it in. The center back wasn’t much better defending on the second goal and ended the game without recording a tackle, interception, clearance or blocked shot, which especially for a defender is, to put it kindly, not good.
Steven Moreira (5.5) – Moreira had another solid game defensively, with some strong play defensively and some positive movement forward, but he was dispossessed four times in the attacking half, killing some of the Crew’s offensive efforts. He showed good aggression and played all 90 minutes for the team, but ultimately needs to be more productive offensively for the team and quicker in transition.
Darlington Nagbe (6.5) – On several occasions, Nagbe demonstrated his ability to dribble out of trouble and kept several Black & Gold possessions alive by moving the ball out of pressure and resetting through the back. The problem is that Nagbe is at his best when he is pushing the ball forward through the center and connecting through the attackers rather than the defenders, which he wasn’t able to do until late.
Artur (5.0) – Artur had a fine game for the Crew, with some inciteful passes that helped push the attack forward and a shot that just sailed over the crossbar. However, he failed to pick up the run by Schlegel on the first goal and failed to make as definitive of an impact on the defensive end as we’ve come to expect from the Brazilian.
Yah Yeboah (5.0) – Yeboah actually had some bright moments as he still tries to find his way with the team. Playing 59 minutes, the Ghanian winger made some solid runs down the right side and helped try and push the team’s attack. However, his 27 touches were the fewest of any Crew starter and too often he failed to find the right cross to lead to better scoring opportunities.
Lucas Zelarayán (7.0) – Clearly Columbus’ man of the match and the best player on the field, Zelarayan had an incredible free kick that ended up going off the crossbar. Zelarayán ended up being surrounded by at least three Orlando City players throughout the end of the game, showing the respect his skill demanded.
Miguel Berry (2.0) – Berry gets as high of a match score as the number of shots he had during the game. His two shots, neither of which were on goal, were only the symptom of poor positioning and a lack of incisive runs that have defined his success both this season and last. The Crew must get more out of whoever their starting striker ends up being and Berry has struggled to show why that should be him.
Derrick Etienne Jr. (5.0) – Coming off the field after 59 minutes of play, Etienne was visibly upset, taking off his jersey and kicking the team’s bench. However, it is both his teammates and his own play that is deserving of Etienne’s ire. While his three shots tied the team lead, none of those shots were on target, and despite some early aggressive runs, he has failed to recapture the magic he showed through the first three games of the season.
Gyasi Zardes (6.0) – Zardes played well in the two-striker formation, coming deep multiple times to try and bring the ball into the attacking third while making some solid passes forward. However, the two-striker look needs additional work, as neither Zardes nor Berry looked completely comfortable with where the other was at.
Josh Williams (6.0) – Crew fans were delighted to see hometown favorite Williams make his return to the field, and he had some solid attempts on set pieces. The Crew always look more comfortable on the backline whenever Williams is in the lineup, and Black & Gold fans will hope to see more of him as he comes back from his injury.
James Igbekeme (5.0) – Recording a shot and two key passes, Igbekeme played solidly in a little over 30 minutes of play. Igbekeme has shown this season that he is a reliable substitute and has helped bring fresh legs and a fresh attack to the team.
Alexandru Matan (N/A) – An 86th minute substitute, Matan didn’t have enough time to make an impact with the team desperately searching for a breakthrough goal.
Caleb Porter (4.0) – Questions are starting to mount for the Crew’s manager, as Porter once again finds himself in the middle of a losing streak in Columbus. Much like last year's skid that sent the Black & Gold careening out of playoff position, if the Crew doesn’t stop the poor run of form, it could doom this new season. Not only that, it could spell trouble for the long-term future for Porter in Columbus. It's difficult to point at exactly what Porter is doing poorly, as the Crew is mostly struggling to put away chances while also giving up poor goals. However, at a certain point, the manager is responsible for the results and Porter needs to find a spark to both reignite the Black & Gold and save the season.