The Columbus Crew ended a two-match losing streak, a 181-minute goalless drought and earned the team’s first road win of the 2022 MLS regular season on Saturday night in a 2-1 win against Atlanta United at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Black & Gold scored in the opening minute of the game to set the tone and continued to fight, holding on late to get a valuable three points.
Here is how each player performed in the vital road win before a two-week international break.
Eloy Room (9.0) – Saturday’s eight saves showed why Room is the highest-paid goalkeeper in MLS. Room made save after save in dynamic fashion by leaping, diving and going to the ground. He was easily the player of the match for the Crew against a team that had the luxury of bringing in Dom Dwyer and Josef Martinez, who have a combined 175 goals in the MLS regular season, off the bench.
Steven Moreira (6.0) – Moreira returned for his second match since injury and played well. While Columbus’ game plan didn’t call for a lot of offensive action during the 90 minutes, Moreira still created two shot creating actions on top of a tackle and three interceptions.
Jonathan Mensah (7.5) – The Crew’s win started with a headed goal by Mensah in the first minute on a corner kick, but he played defensively too. Mensah had a mistake-free match and the goal was the icing on the cake.
Miloš Degenek (6.0) – Degenek made his first start in over a month Josh Williams and proved why the Black & Gold signed him. After one early miscommunication that gave Atlanta a shot in the penalty area, Degenek played a solid match, blocking four shots.
Pedro Santos (6.0) – Santos came out of the match in the 24th minute due to a hamstring injury. However, those 20 minutes were important, as the Portuguese fullback sent in the corner kick in the first minute to help put Columbus up 1-0. Santos will be a big loss if he is forced to miss time after the international break.
Artur (7.5) – The Crew midfield had a tough challenge facing Atlanta’s Thiago Almada. Artur was part of keeping Almada off the scoresheet and forcing long shots instead of chances from close range. When Artur suffered an apparent injury when blocking a Dwyer follow-through, the Brazilian stayed on the field, hobbling, because the Black & Gold out of substitutions. A big night by Room may overshadow him, but Artur’s performance in the last 10 minutes is a moment that supporters can look back and see as the reason Columbus is fighting for positions at the end of the season.
Darlington Nagbe (6.5) – Nagbe bounced back from a difficult performance in the loss to LAFC last week. Nagbe intercepted four passes in the midfield and earned a tackle on top of 85.7 percent passing in a match where the Crew wasn’t playing its usual game plan of getting and holding possession.
Aidan Morris (6.5) – Morris returned to the starting lineup following two matches on the bench. In the press, Morris was huge, leading both sides with 35 presses on opponents. Morris covered a lot of ground, frustrated the United midfield and brought energy to the group on the road.
Yaw Yeboah (6.0) – For all the difficulties in the second half against LAFC, Yeboah was stellar for the Black & Gold for a second match in a row. From the first whistle. Yeboah charged up the field and earned the corner that turned into a goal. Unfortunately for the Ghanaian, he suffered a severely rolled ankle thanks to the turf in Atlanta and lacked the same fire for the entire 53 minutes he played.
Derrick Etienne Jr. (6.5) – Etienne helped put Columbus up two before halftime. The winger sent a ball flying down the field to lead to the second goal and added added two shots on the night. He was also caught offside twice, adding to his league-leading total in 2022.
Erik Hurtado (7.0) – Hurtado in the starting 11 came as a surprise to many but it was the right call. In Hurtado’s stint with Crew 2 and in the U.S. Open Cup, the forward showed the energy and confidence to get down the field and send in shots. Hurtado converted on one of his two solid chances and the other took a big bounce that was tough to handle.
Will Sands (5.5) – From an outsider’s perspective, Sands came out of nowhere to earn minutes against LAFC. Sands came back into the game for this match, this time for an injured Santos. While the young fullback didn’t fit up the field much, his style of play was perfect for the Crew’s goal of sitting back and breaking United down in their offensive half of the field. After a couple of early mistakes, Sands recovered and had a sound match.
James Igbekeme (5.5) – In 38 minutes, Igbekeme had two tackles and two blocks. There wasn’t a need for him to add to the match offensively with the Crew up two goals.
Miguel Berry (5.5) – With 14 minutes to play, Berry entered the game and only had possession of the ball three times. There wasn’t much for the forward to do on offense as the Black & Gold bunkered in to hold the victory.
Josh Williams (5.5) – Williams played 15 minutes and had three clearances. The lone goal was right next to Williams, but Dwyer seemed to shock the Black & Gold backline with a point-blank bicycle kick.
Caleb Porter (7.0) – For weeks there’s been a discussion on the lack of scoring from the forward position for Columbus. Porter made the decision to go with Hurtado over Berry from the start and it paid off in this match. Tactically, this game was always going to be one where the Crew let Atlanta have some chances but made them difficult. That’s what the Black & Gold did and they came out with the victory.