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Games Grades: Crew vs. Nashville FC

See how the individual Black & Gold performances were graded in a frustrating loss.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch
The Crew came up short against Nashville on Saturday
Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Coming in with an undefeated record, the Columbus Crew hoped to use the good vibes of former star Federico Higuain’s retirement party to continue the hot streak to start the 2022 MLS season. Unfortunately, Nashville SC had other plans and spoiled the party with a 1-0 victory at Field.

Here’s how we graded the individual performances from the Crew.


Eloy Room (7.5) – Room had another strong performance for the Crew despite letting in the early goal. There was little he could do to stop Alex Muyl‘s finish and his brilliant saves in both the 31st and 33rd minutes were colossal in keeping the Black & Gold in the game and preventing things from getting ugly. Overall, Room organized the backline well and was stout on set pieces throughout.

Pedro Santos (5.0) – Fans have a right to be upset with the slip in the penalty box that provided Nashville with the early god but Santos was generally reliable playing at left back. His ability to get into the offensive half led to some of Columbus’ best chances of the night and his defending was solid for most of the evening.

Jonathan Mensah (6.0) – The Crew’s captain played solid and had several key clearances, organizing a backline that defended corners, set pieces and Nashville’s attack well. Mensah also had a couple of missed clearances that led to some nervy moments, especially in the first half, and struggled to make an impact on the offensive end during the Black & Gold’s few set piece opportunities. While Mensah put in an overall stout performance, expectations are higher for the captain.

Milos Degenek (6.5) – Degenek is still trying to find his feet in MLS and this was one of his best defensive games yet. He stepped into challenges, cleared the ball away effectively and ultimately did enough defensively to prevent any additional damage. Like Mensah though, the Australian international failed to make an impact offensively as the Crew pressed for the equalizer in the second half. He did, however, effectively man the backline solo while Mensah pressed forward, preventing Nashville from breaking out on the counter.

Steven Moreira (6.0) – Moreira had a fine, if relatively uneventful game, which is odd considering he had over 100 touches. He connected well playing out of the back for the most part and was critical in allowing Columbus to fully press for an equalizer by shifting more centrally. He had a couple of key clearances and tried to push the game forward, but his greatest impact was locking down Nashville on his side of the pitch.

Darlington Nagbe (7.0) – Nagbe did what Nagbe does best, playing centrally, controlling possession and transitioning effectively from defense to offense. The central midfielder was probably the second-best player on the field and was second in shots, touches and passes. He connected well with both sides of the pitch and was dynamic in the midfield.

Artur (6.0) – Saturday’s game was a gritty performance from the Brazillian. While Nagbe is always cool and collected, looking for a backward pass to keep possession, Artur darted forward and makes the riskier passes to kickstart the offense. That was greatly needed in this game. With a couple of shots as well, Artur had a solid performance. While he only had fewer touches than his midfield counterpoints, he made good use of them and helped work to break down the Nashville defense.

Derrick Etienne Jr. (5.0) – This performance was something of a mixed bag for Etienne. On one hand he only had 40 touches and failed to register a shot on goal in 60 minutes of action. On the other, Etienne was constantly involved in the offensive build up both on and off the ball and frequently put himself in dangerous positions for the Black & Gold. Consistency and working to get more shots has led to success for Etienne so far this season, and this game certainly could have used the aggressive play seen so far this season for the Haitian international.

Lucas Zelarayán (5.0) – While fans were certainly glad to see the Armenian international back in the lineup after a scary injury in the previous match, Zelarayán’s performance left something to be desired from the reigning MLS Player of the Month. He led the team in shots, but several of those sailed over the crossbar and into the stands, rather than challenging the Nashville goalkeeper. Zelarayán looked like he was pressing too much, especially in the second half. A lack of free kick opportunities also prevented him from getting what have been some of his most threatening plays in the past two seasons.

Luis Diaz (4.0) – Diaz did not have a good game. This was Diaz’s first start and it came against a defense that sat all 11 men behind the ball. Those are not situations for Diaz to excel. At the same time, Diaz didn’t make the off-ball runs to open up opportunities for himself or others. Ultimately, Diaz plays better in an open, free-flowing game that allows him to use his superior speed to punish opponents and this was not one of those games.

Gyasi Zardes (5.5) – So many times, Zardes showed what he can do to help the Crew build with possession. It’s that skill that keeps him on the U.S. Natioank Team radar. But strikers have one job and that’s to put the ball in the back of the net, and Zardes didn’t even get a shot on goal. Part of that was the lack of service and part of it was a lack of effective finishing on his own part. While Zardes certainly earned the start and wasn’t overly poorly, this game will do little to silence his critics or the trade rumors surrounding him.


Yaw Yeboah (6.0) – Yeboah increased his passing accuracy this week to 76 percent during his 30 minutes of work. That was a blessing, as Columbus was able to build up pressure, but ultimately, playing from the wing, he should be putting more balls into the penalty box to test the defense.

Miguel Berry(5.0) (5.0) - Berry had some great opportunities to level the match but wasn’t able to really question the Nashville defense with his feet or his head.

Alexandru Matan (5.0) – This was a subtitute that was 10 minutes too late. While Matan created some threatening possession in the final third, it certainly wasn’t enough.

Head coach

Caleb Porter (5.0) – Porter put his players in a position to be successful, but ultimately a lack of finishing was what doomed this team to its first loss of the season. Porter needs to establish greater consistency in the striker position. His substitution of Matan for Diaz certainly came too late to impact the game and he went into the locker room at the end of the game with two substitutions in the bag. However, Porter couldn’t have prevented the early goal, which really stopped the Crew from taking control of the game.