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Games Grades: Crew vs. Chicago Fire

See how the Black & Gold performed in a frustrating, scoreless draw.

MLS: Chicago Fire at Columbus Crew SC Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

After the midweek victory against Inter Miami, Saturday was supposed to be the Columbus Crew’s best opportunity for back-to-back home wins for the first time in the 2022 season. Instead, with a close-to-first-choice lineup, the Crew was stymied by superb goalkeeping and an uninspired attack that failed to break down the Chicago Fire defense.

Despite 25 shots, 9 of them on goal, the Black & Gold settled for a 0-0 draw with the Fire, the 13th tie of the year. Here’s how the Crew players graded out in the game.

Starters

Eloy Room (7.0) – A shutout is always good, and Saturday’s was no exception as the Crew needed Room’s one save to keep the Fire off the scoresheet. The goalkeeper was never seriously challenged but did everything he was asked to and ensured good organization across the backline.

William Sands (7.0) – As Sands continues to fill in for Pedro Santos while he recovers from injury, he has shown growth. Sands was fearless pushing forward in the attack and has both the technical ability and the range to cover defensively. The Black & Gold clearly have some talent in the youngster and a suitable replacement for Santos.

Jonathan Mensah (7.5) – Columbus’ captain played well defensively while also being a consistent presence on corner kicks and in the attack. He finished the game with three shots, two on goal. He also contributed three clearances and two tackles, holding down the backline and providing a good structure for the Crew’s defense.

Milos Degenek (7.0) – Degenek continued the excellent defensive play that did enough to earn him MLS Team of the Week honors. He finished the game with three interceptions and added a tackle, a clearance and blocked a shot.

Steven Moreira (7.0) – Moreira was solid defensively and helped push up the right side of the field, creating opportunities for the Black & Gold. The fullback has shown his offensive ability and his passing was strong. He had multiple key passes helping move players into the attack.

Luis Diaz (7.5) – Diaz has been excellent in recent weeks and continued that performance on Saturday. He was a terror for the Fire backline and made brilliant runs that should have earned him a goal or an assist, using his game-breaking speed.

Aidan Morris (6.5) – Morris has been inconsistent in recent weeks but on Saturday, he played well throughout the game despite a few moments where his aggressive nature causes him to force the ball in situations where recirculating the ball would help the team keep possession and find a better chance.

Darlington Nagbe (7.0) – Nagbe was a perfect 62/62 on his passes on Saturday evening. That stat was a remarkable testament to his ability to play out of pressure and keep possession moving forward for the team. He was also the only starter who didn’t take a shot (excluding the goalkeeper), which may be by design. However, Columbus is at the team’s best when Nagbe adds more offensively and the Crew could have used more offensively from the team’s All-Star.

Derrick Etienne Jr. (7.0) – Etienne wasn’t able to recreate the brace performance from Soldier Field the last time the Black & Gold played the Fire. In 67 minutes of game time, the left winger played fine for the team, but couldn’t get as integrated into the attack as he has in the past.

Lucas Zelarayán (6.5) – Columbus fans will be encouraged that the hamstring tightness that kept Zelarayán out of the midweek contest didn’t end up being more serious. The Black Crew’s No. 10 was back on the field Saturday and was positive in possession, demonstrating the value he brings to the team’s attack. However, Zelarayán continued to struggle taking the Black & Gold’s corners.

Cucho Hernandez (7.5) – Hernandez has had 15 shots over the past two games but has still failed to find the back of the net in those matches. This scoreless game can be attributed to bad luck and excellent saves, but Columbus need him to score goals. It is apparent watching Hernandez that he is playing with passion and is frustrated by his lack of scoring, but ultimately the team needs to figure out how to create more dangerous opportunities.

Substitutes

Kevin Molino (6.5) – Molino came on once again for Etienne and played similarly fine. He wasn’t able to muster a shot in his 23 minutes of action but did fine distributing the ball and promoting the Crew’s attack.

Artur (7.0) – Artur came on in the 80th minute for Morris and certainly tried to get on the score sheet with a long shot that bounced awkwardly for the goalkeeper. The midfielder didn’t have much time to get integrated into the game but did alright with the opportunity provided.

Mohamed Farsi (6.5) – Farsi came on in the 80th minute for Sands and played with enthusiasm defenseively. He wasn’t seriously tested defensively but tried to move forward into the attack and find a late winner.

Yaw Yeboah (N/A) – Yeboah was a too late offensive substitution, as Diaz and the rest of the Crew’s attack had been struggling from the 60th minute onward. Yeboah came on in the 86th minute, too late to make an impact.

Head coach

Caleb Porter (5.0) – Porter rolled out nearly the same lineup from the team’s previous two matches and both the players and the strategy looked tired. The team lacked creativity and while the Black & Gold were unlucky not to score at least two or three goals, ultimately, they didn’t do enough to break down a team obviously playing for a draw. Columbus needed rotation and Porter didn’t have the right players or the right tactics to find a winner and get a result.