The Columbus Crew entered Saturday’s game against Sporting Kansas City on a three-match MLS regular season losing streak. After three weeks of frustration of mistakes turning into defeats and no goals scored, the Black & Gold hoped to come out of Kansas City with points.
Head coach Caleb Porter’s Crew side returned home with a single point in a 0-0 draw against Sporting. It was a match where the Black & Gold substituted possession for counter attacking chances.
With that in mind, here’s how the players that saw the field performed.
Eloy Room (8.0) – It’s not usually a team’s goal to have the goalkeeper as the player of the match, but Room’s performance was the difference between a draw and another loss. Room made three saves, one in the late stages of the match from an errant header from his own center back.
Pedro Santos (7.5) – For all the concerns about putting him in a more defensive role this season, Santos is showing he can handle it. The Portuguese contributed both offensively and defensively against Sporting, but his work keeping Kansas City off the board stood out the most. Sporting tried going his way multiple times and only once was Santos bested.
Jonathan Mensah (6.5) – Mensah had a quiet match, which is exactly what you want out of your center back. There weren’t match-changing mistakes or moments of missed assignment for the Crew captain.
Miloš Degenek (6.0) – Like Mensah, Degenek played a match where he was mostly not a focal point. Until his attempt at clearing out a ball for a goal kick went too far left and almost in his own net, Degenek played a strong game.
Steven Moreira (7.0) – Of the two Crew fullbacks, Moreira was the more offensive-minded on the evening. It was Moreira that sent in passes into the penalty box that put the Crew in chances to score, but the Kansas City defense turned these efforts away.
Aidan Morris (6.5) – Morris’ addition came after a strong showing in the Crew’s midweek defeat to Detroit City FC in Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup match. Morris stretched the midfield and made well-timed runs to press the Sporting midfield into making mistakes.
Artur (6.0) – The Brazilian midfielder had a quiet first half but wore Kansas City down later. In the second half, Artur forced mistakes from the opponent and did well at clogging passing lanes. Artur did take one shot, two yards outside of the penalty area, but it was stopped by the defense.
Darlington Nagbe (7.0) – Nagbe played higher than normal in a midfielder three with the absence of midfielder Lucas Zelarayán. With a different role than usual, Nagbe still showed how dangerous he is in the midfield, starting counter attacks with his quick tackling and sending in the best pass of the night that was wasted.
James Igbekeme (6.5) – Igbekeme played on the wing after mostly playing a central midfield role during his time in Columbus, earning a spot after excelling against Detroit. Like Morris, Igbekeme played a strong match among first-team starters. The Nigerian had a chance to put the Crew up, but the lack of playing time turned a goal into an offside shot against side netting. Igbekeme played all 90 minutes and the loanee showed versatility playing on the left and right wing.
Yaw Yeboah (6.0) – Yeboah had one of the best chances to put the Crew up in the game after a perfectly timed pass from Nagbe within a few yards of the goal but sent the shot wide. He did not contribute much else offensively, only completing 67 percent of his passes.
Miguel Berry (5.5) – Berry started the match off with his first shot on goal since March 12, but it was his only one of the 90 minutes on the field. The forward once again struggled to be dangerous, although this time playing in a team that was willing to sit back on the road and didn’t create as many chances up top.
Derrick Etienne Jr. (5.5) – Etienne came into the match in the 61st minute for Yeboah and had one big chance but was offside. He had one other shot and a key pass, but didn’t create much during his time on the field.
Josh Williams (N/A) – Williams came in for injured Degenek in the 87th minute. While he did help deny a Sporting chance in stoppage time, Williams didn’t have enough time on the field to grade his performance.
Caleb Porter (6.5) – Porter entered the match playing off Kansas City coach Peter Vermes’ team problem with defense on counter attacks. Initially, it was effective. Columbus found counter chances and put shots into dangerous areas. As the match went on though, those chances diminished as Sporting adjusted. Etienne was the lone strategic substitute, who didn’t make the impact Porter hoped. A road draw looked like the goal, especially after the weather delay.