The Columbus Crew returned home on Saturday, looking to returning to winning ways at Lower.com Field against LAFC. The Black & Gold were the better team for much of the rain-delayed game, but two costly errors at the back and a continued inability to convert chances continued led to a 2-0 defeat.
Columbus is now 3-3-0 at home, a place the team claims should be a fortress. A stretch of three matches against what are perceived to be some of the top teams in Major League Soccer has yielded just one point after the most recent defeat.
Here’s how the Crew players graded individually after this game with LAFC.
Eloy Room (6.5) – The goalkeeper had some strong saves for the Black & Gold but was unable to play savior on the two backline blunders. Room has been solid if not special this season and has made significant improvements on set piece defense.
Steven Moreira (6.5) – It was good to see Moreira healthy enough to play again and he was solid but not great. The right back’s 88 percent passing accuracy is helpful for the way the Crew plays, but too often those passes were going backward instead of forwards.
Jonathan Mensah (6.0) – As a player, Mensah played well enough for Columbus. The center back led the team with six clearances and three blocked shots. However, as the captain, Mensah was unable to organize and motivate a lackluster defensive group around him. The mistakes that led directly to goals, and the loss, must be addressed by the captain and he has been unable to do so.
Josh Williams (5.5) – Williams made a huge stop in the 32nd minute as the last man to keep LAFC scoreless in the first half. However, after a mistake by a teammate, the center was beaten by Carlos Vela and his failure to communicate with Room almost led to the second goal. Communication, organization and passion have made Williams one of the Crew’s most important players on the backline, but these were lacking, especially in the second half.
Pedro Santos (6.0) – Santos has been one of the team’s the hardest working players but his move to left back from the wing hasn’t led to more attacking play. Santos didn’t have a shot or much in terms of dynamic play in the game.
Artur (6.0) – Another good but not great game from Artur. The Brazilian central midfielder had high passing percentages and recorded two shots. But too often Artur was slow in his decision making, which causes the Crew’s buildup to be a half step late and impeded the team from getting in dangerous positions.
James Igbekeme (7.0) –It’s fair to say that Igbekeme had the best game of any player on the field on Saturday. He made interceptions, moved the ball around and tried to get Columbus into dangerous positions.
Darlington Nagbe (4.0) – While Nagbe had a poor performance, its unfair to place the entirety of the loss on one player, especially one who has been so integral to the success of the team throughout his time with the club. While Nagbe has looked a step or two off this season, he is still one of the strongest contributors to the team.
Yaw Yeboah (7.0) – In another universe, Yeboah was a foot farther away from goal and is the hero for the Crew in a 1-0 win. That was not this universe. Instead, VAR overturned Yeboah’s clinical finish and Columbus continues to struggle for answers. However, it positive showing from Yeboah in his 73 minutes of game time, something the offseason signing needed.
Lucas Zelarayán (7.0) – Too often Zelarayán tries to do too much himself and that was the case again on Saturday. He’s at his best when he’s working off of others and creating magic from free kicks. Unfortunately, he has not been able to do that in the last couple of games.
Miguel Berry (5.0) – Another week, another one-shot, no-shots-on-target game for the Black & Gold forward. On only 26 touches, Berry was dispossessed threre times and was intercepted on several other passes. Yet another week goes by with the Crew searching for any production from their striker.
Derrick Etienne Jr. (6.0) – According to Massive Report’s Patrick Murphy, Etienne started the game on the bench due to a disciplinary issue. Etienne has been a bright spot for the team throughout the season, so it was disappointing to see him not start but he didn’t make a big impact in the game as a substitute
Luis Diaz (5.5) - Diaz was on the field for the final 16 minutes, replacing Yeboah. He has 16 touches but wasn’t very active yet again when Columbus needed offense.
Erik Hurtado (5.5) - Unlike Berry, Hurtado was able to play a bigger part in the attack, recording one shoot that was on target in his 16 minutes on the pitch.
William Sands (N/A) - The young left back made his Crew debut, coming off the bench for five minutes for Santos but wasn’t able to impact much in the closing moments.
Caleb Porter (4.0) - In his press conference, Porter took the blame for the team's loss and at this point, it seems to be more than just coach speech. With alleged disciplinary issues, miscommunications across the field and sloppy play, fingers have to be pointed at the manager. Discontent is growing and while cries to change the coach may be premature for now, continuing along this trajectory will only cause them to grow.