Games Grades: Crew vs. CF Montreal 

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Sam Fahmi – Massive Report

See how the Black & Gold performances were graded in a disappointing last-minute loss.

Gut-wrenching is perhaps the best way to describe the Columbus Crew’s Wednesday’s midweek 2-1 loss at home against CF Montreal. The Crew had countless opportunities to widen the team’s one-goal lead from early but failed to capitalize on any of them. Instead, Montreal found two late goals and took home all three points.

The fans at Lower.com Field went home upset after watching their team cough up a lead late. The loss ended the Black & Gold’s nine-game unbeaten run.

Let’s take a look at how the players performed.

Starters

Eloy Room (6.5) – Room played well for most of the night, despite appearing to suffer an injury. His incredible save in the 92nd minute appeared to at least preserve the tie, but he was unable to sustain the relentless pressure of Montreal.

Pedro Santos (7.0) – Santos had a quiet night offensively, mainly playing deep and supporting the Columbus defense with a team-leading four tackles and six clearances. He made significant contributions snuffing out Montreal attacks down the left side.

Jonathan Mensah (4.0) – Mensah will probably take most of the blame for Wednesday’s loss despite leading the team with nine clearances and putting in a solid defensive effort. Ultimately his mistakes cost the team dearly. He almost allowed an easy Montreal goal after taking a poor touch and falling down in the 64th minute. He was outleapt by Kei Kamara on his 88th minute goal, failing to box out the former Crew striker. And on Joel Waterman’s 94th minute winner, he just missed blocking the shot.

Josh Williams (6.0) – Williams only played 45 minutes on Wednesday, and it appears as though Caleb Porter might be platooning him with Milos Degenek. In his short time though, he was satisfactory for the Black & Gold and helped keep Montreal from seriously threatening the goal throughout the first half.

Steven Moreira (6.5) – Moreira assisted on the lone goal and played well when he was allowed to push forward and attack with the rest of Columbus. Defensively, Moreira did his job but only contributed a tackle and two clearances to a team constantly under assault.

Darlington Nagbe (7.0) – Nagbe finished the game with a 95 percent pass accuracy but the defensive game plan kept him from pressing into the attack and contributing to the Crew offensively. He didn’t make any serious errors, but also didn’t have any of his usual highlight reel plays out of traffic or precision passes.

Aiden Morris (7.5) – Morris was excellent once again and continued to show why he is on the field. The distance he covers and the way he helps his teammates make the defense better and helps the Black & Gold both defensively and in the transition.

Luis Diaz (7.0) – Diaz’s renaissance of late has been remarkable. He can use his speed to punish defender’s tendency to collapse on others. The trouble now is converting these plays into goals for Columbus and Diaz, who hasn’t scored since the season opener, continued that drought on Wednesday.

Lucas Zelarayán (8.0) – Zelarayán had the Crew’s biggest highlight of the night, and for 87 minutes, it appeared that his goal would be enough to secure the three points. Beyond the goal though, Zelarayán has played much better of late.

Derrick Etienne Jr. (6.5) – Etienne played a decent 69 minutes for the Black & Gold but skyed a shot over the crossbar when it seemed as though he had a sure goal. Other than that, he didn’t contribute a ton to Columbus especially as their game plan turned increasingly defensive.

Cucho Hernandez (8.5) – Hernandez wanted this win, and especially once Zelarayán left the game, he was the only attacking threat for the Crew. He had multiple strikes and was unlucky not to convert on any of them. While one could quibble that he could have done a better job holding up play and allowing the Black & Gold to fully get into the attack, Columbus fans have to admire his relentless spirit that continued to press the attack for the full 90 minutes.

Substitutes

Miloš Degenek (5.0) – Degenek came on for the second half for the ill Williams. While he faced more pressure than Williams, he also failed to effectively deal with that pressure. While he hasn’t featured much recently as he’s coming off injury, Degenek has not made a compelling case for replacing Williams long term.

Yaw Yeboah (6.0) – Yeboah was a non-factor for the Crew, replacing Luis Diaz in the 70th minute and only getting six touches on the ball. While he made a few breaks in transition, he wasn’t able to turn those opportunities into anything productive for the Black & Gold.

James Igbekeme (6.0) – Igbekeme came on in the 70th minute on the other side of the field from Yeboah but similarly made a minimal impact for Columbus. While he too made some decent runs, Igbekeme wasn’t able to effectively support Hernandez and the Crew counter attack to properly pressure Montreal.

Artur (6.0) – It was great to see Artur back on the field. However, replacing Zelarayán with the defensively strong Artur removed a dynamic facilitator. Artur didn’t play poorly, but it will take time for him to find his form and he only had 13 touches in about 20 minutes of game action on Wednesday.

Kevin Molino (N/A) – Molino came on for Aidan Morris after Montreal equalized but didn’t make an impact before the game was over.

Head coach

Caleb Porter (4.5) – It’s crazy the difference a week makes. Neine results in a row should be enough to silence most critics, but the loss on Wednesday brought a renewed voice the loudest of Porter’s dissenters. The way in which the Crew squandered an early lead, failed to capitalize on multiple clear-cut opportunities and increasingly played a more cautious defensive style even as Montreal continued to ramp up the pressure was supremely frustrating.

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