Games Grades: Crew vs. Timbers

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See how the individual Black & Gold performances were graded in another last second heartbreak of a draw.

It was an all too familiar feeling for Columbus sCrew fans, as once again, in the dying seconds of a game, the Crew gave up an equalizer to the Portland Timbers and walked away from Sunday’s match with a 1-1 draw, ruing the missed opportunity to solidify the team’s MLS Cup playoff hopes.

Now Columbus is on the outside looking in of the postseason and will need things to go their way to make the playoffs.

Here’s how the players performed in the match.

Starters

Eloy Room (7.0) – Room played magnificently up until the final shot of the game and the surprising, long-range attempt ended up taking an unfortunate bounce into the back of his net. The goalkeeper deserved the shutout after making two terrific saves and a number of crucial clearances.

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

Josh Williams (6.5) – Filling in for the injured Jonathan Mensah, Williams did serviceable for the team with two interceptions and three clearances. The center back was a strong defensive presence for the tea, and while he tried to support the offensive efforts on set pieces, he never got a clear opportunity to make an impact.

Milos Degenek (7.0) – Degenek had a fantastic game for the Crew up until the 95th minute, when he failed to close down on Santiago Morena before the goal. It was a crazy sequence of events, but Degenek’s slow reaction to the bouncing ball didn’t do the team any favors. Degenek played well at center back otherwise, finishing the game with nine clearances, three times more than any other Black & Gold player.

Steven Moreira (7.0) – Moreira was relentless in the attack, pushing forward while staying stout defensively. He consistently found himself supporting Columbus’ offense and had the willingness to make deep runs. He also exhibited range to be able to cover back defensively and proved up to the task against the Portland attack.

Aidan Morris (7.5) – Morris featured heavily in the midfield and was favorably compared by the broadcast team to Timbers legend Diego Chara on multiple occasions. While he picked up a yellow card in the 16th minute, that didn’t stop him from being a force defensively and in transition. He finished the game with a 92 percent passing accuracy on 50 passes, helping Columbus keep possession and playing a large role in keeping that attack going.

Darlington Nagbe (7.0) – Nagbe played a bigger role on Sunday than he has 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, positioning himself higher up on the pitch and making useful attacking passes. As the Crew became more conservative, Nagbe switched to circulating possession back which led to a more plodding attack that was unable to break down the Timbers’ defense.

Kevin Molino (7.5) – The Trinidad and Tobago international continued to show flashes 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 had a brace as well.

Lucas Zelarayán (7.5) – Zelarayán had one of his best assists of the season with a perfect side-of-the-foot 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 going to make a run to the playoffs.

Luis Diaz (7.0) – In his first game back from the red card suspension, Diaz played well for the Crew, using his elite pace to run at 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 a lack of effort. Seven shots on goal make one remember the early days of the season where Columbus attackers consistently failed to register even a single shot in a game.

Substitutes

Derrick Etienne Jr. (7.0) – Perhaps this was some cosmic payback for his goal against Cincinnati, but Etienne was a fraction offside and it cost the Crew a goal. The winger made a brilliant run after coming off the bench but was just a bit early. Otherwise, Etienne did well, but the shifting tactics prevented him from being utilized in an offensively dynamic way.

Will Sands (6.0) – Sands came on in the 83rd minute and ended the game with only five touches, an interception and a clearance. While he did admirably to contain the last-minute pressure from Portland, he and the rest of the defense ultimately didn’t do enough in the closing minutes to secure the victory.

Yaw Yeboah (6.0) – Yeboah was subbed on as well in the 83rd and while he did have one shot on goal, he was unable to make a clearance in the 95th minute, knocking into the timbers player, going down awkwardly and unfortunately hitting to the ball to Moreno who scored the goal.

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

Head Coach

Caleb Porter (5.0) – Who else can you put this loss on but the coach? Six points dropped in the past three games and a team that now sits outside 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 end-of-game scenarios that has nothing to do talent.

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