Grades of Games: Columbus Crew vs. timbers

It was an all too familiar sentiment for Columbus sCrew fans, as once again, in the dying seconds of a game, the Crew allowed the Portland Timbers to tie and walked away from Sunday’s game tied 1-1, ruining the lost. opportunity to solidify the team’s hopes in the MLS Cup playoffs.

Now Columbus is out looking toward the postseason and will need to get things going his way to make the playoffs.

This is how the players performed in the match.

Starters

Eloy Room (7.0) – Room played magnificently until the final shot of the match and the surprising long-range attempt ended up having an unfortunate bounce off the back of his net. The goalkeeper deserved the shutout after making two spectacular saves and several crucial clearances.

Pedro Santos (7.5) – Santos was back in what has been his usual position at left back this season and played well at the baseline. Consistently making deep offensive runs while being strong on defense, Santos showed why he has been a crucial part of the defense this season.

Josh Williams (6.5) – Replacing the injured Jonathan Mensah, Williams was helpful to the team with two interceptions and three clearances. The central defender was a strong defensive presence for the tea, and although he tried to support offensive efforts on set pieces, he never had a clear chance to make an impact.

Milos Degenek (7.0) – Degenek put in a fantastic game for the Crew until 95the minute, when he failed to close Santiago Morena before the goal. It was a crazy sequence of events, but Degenek’s slow reaction to the bounce didn’t do the team any favors. Otherwise, Degenek played well at centre-back and finished the match with nine clearances, three times more than any other Black & Gold player.

Esteban Moreira (7.0) – Moreira was relentless in attack, pushing forward while holding firm in defense. He constantly found himself supporting the Columbus offense and had a willingness to make deep runs. He also exhibited range to cover defensively and proved up to the task against Portland’s attack.

Aidan Morris (7.5) – Morris excelled heavily in midfield and was compared favorably to Timbers legend Diego Chara by the broadcast team on multiple occasions. As he picked up a yellow card in the 16ththe minute, that didn’t stop him from being a defensive and transitional force. He finished the game with 92 percent passing accuracy on 50 passes, which helped Columbus keep possession and played a big part in keeping that attack going.

Darlington Nagbe (7.0) – Nagbe played a bigger role on Sunday than he did recently, helping the team with a perfect 100 percent passing accuracy on 44 passes. What really helped the team was in the first half, he played aggressively, getting higher up the field and making useful attacking passes. As the Crew became more conservative, Nagbe switched to back-running possession, leading to a more labored attack that couldn’t break through the Timbers defense.

Kevin Mill (7.5) – The Trinidad and Tobago international continued to show glimpses of the skill that made him so elite at Minnesota United. While injuries have prevented these lofty aspirations from manifesting, his goal on Sunday was a beauty and he almost has a brace too.

Lucas Zelarayán (7.5) – Zelarayán gave one of his best assists of the season with a perfect lateral touch to Molino. His control and ability to make that final pass have been crucial for the team this season and his ability to both assist and score will be crucial if Columbus is to make the playoffs.

Luis Diaz (7.0) – In his first game back from red card suspension, Diaz played well for the Crew, using his elite pace to attack Portland defenders and consistently creating chances for the Black & Gold.

Cucho Hernandez (7.5) – While Hernandez didn’t find the back of the net against the Timbers, it wasn’t for lack of effort. Seven shots on goal reminds one of the early days of the season when Columbus’ forwards never managed to register a single shot in a game.

substitutes

Derrick Etienne Jr. (7.0) – Perhaps this was cosmic revenge for his goal against Cincinnati, but Etienne was sidelined by a fraction and cost the Crew a goal. The winger made a brilliant run after coming off the bench, but he was a bit early. Otherwise, Etienne did well, but changing tactics prevented him from being used in a dynamic offensive way.

Will Arenas (6.0) – Sands entered in ’83dr minute and finished the game with just five touches, an interception and a clearance. Although he did an admirable job of containing late-game pressure from Portland, neither he nor the rest of the defense did enough in the final minutes to secure the victory.

Yaw Yeboah (6.0) – Yeboah was also substituted in ’83dr and although he fired a shot on goal, he could not clear in the 95the minute, knocking down the logger, falling awkwardly and unfortunately hitting the ball to Moreno who scored the goal.

Arthur (N/A) – Artur’s substitution was an obvious time waster and while his play didn’t impact the game, the extra time given to Portland due to the substitution did.

Coach

Caleb Porter (5.0) – Who else can you blame for this defeat but the coach? Six points lost in the last three games and a team that now finds itself out of the MLS Cup playoff positions. Porter is a good coach, an MLS Cup winning coach and brought a title to Columbus. But this season, the team has floundered in late-game scenarios that have nothing to do with talent.

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