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Games Grades: Crew vs. Atlanta United

See how the Black & Gold players performed in a draw with the Five Stripes.

Sam Fahmi - Massive Report

Sunday night’s weather delayed contest between the Columbus Crew and Atlanta United could have gone either way. The Crew had a lethargic start to the game and Atlanta was rewarded with a remarkable strike early before the hosts stormed back in the second half with two superb goals. The game ultimately ended on set piece defending as United scored off a corner and held on to finish the game level at two goals apiece.

Here’s how the individual performers from the Crew play.

Starters

Eloy Room (7.0) – Room was caught flat footed on the first Atlanta goal, looking like he was sure the ball was going to go wide. Furthermore, the Crew’s set piece defending was shaky all night and if not for a fortunate foul call, the Black & Gold would have given up two goals directly from corners. What redeemed the Columbus goalkeeper was his multiple phenomenal saves that allowed the Crew to stay in the game against United’s relentless attack.

Pedro Santos (6.5) – Santos came off in the 27th minute, suffering an injury. Fortunately, head coach Caleb Porter said in postgame interviews that he thinks Pedro Santos will be okay.

Jonathan Mensah (5.5) – Mensah did not have his best game for the Black & Gold and missed several clearances that led to direct chances for United. While he and the rest of the backline were able to scramble away most of Atlanta’s chances, the defending consistently lacked organization.

Milos Degenek (6.0) – Degenek had an up-and-down game for Columbus. While he led the team in clearances with six and contributed another two interceptions and a blocked shot, Degenek’s pace was unable to match the attacking talent of the Atlanta backline and there were several times he also failed to make the right clearance out of the penalty box.

Steven Moreira (6.5) – Moreira played decently both offensively and defensively on Sunday. While he spent much of the game playing higher up in the offensive half of the field, he still contributed three tackles, four clearances and an interception on the defensive end.

Darlington Nagbe (6.0) – Nagbe finished the game with only 37 touches, the lowest of the Crew starters who played more than 60 minutes. While his passing accuracy was 96.9 percent, he struggled to get involved in any aspect of the game, especially in the first half.

Artur (6.5) – Artur had some moments of brilliance on Sunday, reminding everyone why he has been a rock for the Crew midfield since 2017. His biggest issue is a lack of range and ability to cover space that was apparent against the high-octane offense of Atlanta. He led the team with six total tackles but had to pick and choose his moments to make both offensive and defensive runs.

Derrick Etienne Jr. (6.5) – Etienne played 60 minutes before he was subbed off and failed to make much of an impact on the game. He had the best Black & Gold scoring chance in the first half but failed to get the ball on target and the flow of the game shifted away from his left side.

Lucas Zelarayán (7.5) – When Zelarayán is more involved in Columbus’ attack, the team is objectively better. Sunday’s game proved that as Zelarayán saw less of the ball in the first half and more in the second half, leading to dramatically different results. Zelarayán hasn’t been able to find his touch on set pieces as both have looked anemic for the Crew.

Luis Diaz (7.5) – The first thing that has to be talked about for Diaz is his inch-perfect cross for the Crew’s first goal. Beyond that though, Diaz showed energy and pace all night and induced multiple fouls that gave the Black & Gold free kicks in dangerous positions.

Cucho Hernandez (9.0) – Hernandez managed two goals, both of which were phenomenal team efforts and both happened because of his ability to find the correct position and to smoothly finish inside the penalty box.

Substitutes

Will Sands (7.5) – Sands came on for his second extended shift of the yera. While he took the first half to find his stride, Sands was more than comfortable in the second half. He repeatedly made the run down the left side, providing the midfield with options along both wings and when the ball finally came to him, he made sure he took advantage, with some phenomenal one v one skills that saw him get all the way to the end line, leading to an assist

Kevin Molino (7.0) – This game finally showed what the former Minnesota United star can bring when he is fully healthy. The movement inside both created more opportunities centrally while also creating space for others. Molino’s interplay on the first goal was phenomenal.

Marlon Hairston, Aidan Morris, Josh Williams (N/A) – All three of these players came on in the 87th minute and did not have time to make an impact or earn a grade.

Head coach

Caleb Porter (4.0) – In his postgame interviews, Porter said that the team lacked passion in the Draw and there were “2-3 guys that didn’t start the game with enough intensity and hunger.” Getting a team motivated for the game and choosing the correct starting 11 not only for their individual talent but for their want to compete rests squarely on the coach’s shoulders. The Crew has the talent at every position to go toe-to-toe with any team in the league. The question will be moving forward if Porter is able to get enough out of that lineup to make them a team that is greater than the sum of their parts.