Game Grades: Crew vs. Real Salt Lake

Anyone who thought that the Columbus Crew was going to cool off after their 6-1 drubbing of Atlanta United last week found themselves sorely mistaken. The Crew easily dispatched a struggling Real Salt Lake on Saturday at Field by the final score of 4-0.

Salt Lake came into the match having lost its last two games and things didn’t get any better. The Black & Gold, meanwhile, kept rolling offensive and got the team’s second shutout of the year.

Let’s take a look at how the Columbus players performed in another blowout win.


Patrick Schulte (8.5) – The goalkeeper made his second consecutive start in goal for the Crew and had his best game of the season, making five saves and recording his first shutout with the first team. Decisive with his distribution and confident in goal, Schulte justified his coach’s decision to start him over Eloy Room.

Mohamed Farsi (7.5) – Farsi had a relatively quiet game for the Crew, which is not to say he didn’t perform well. The wing back contributed a shot and made three important clearances while his 95 percent passing accuracy helped the Black & Gold keep possession and build out of the back, particularly when Real pressed early in the second half while looking to get back into the game.

Steven Moreira (8.0) – Moreira was highly active on the offensive front, connecting with several key passes the led to opportunities for the Crew. He got the secondary assist on Morris’s first goal, with an incisive pass that Zelarayán just has to back heal to set up Morris for the goal.  Moreira was also active defensively with a tackle and three clearances helping to stymy the Salt Lake attack throughout the night.

Milos Degenek (8.0) – Degenek returned to Columbus after being out on international duty last week. The center back stepped right back in where he left off, anchoring a defense that suffered pressure but never broke against Salt Lake. He completed 70 of 77 passes, helping Columbus keep 59 percent of possession during the game.

Gustavo Vallecilla (7.0) – Vallecilla did well for the Crew on Saturday, contributing to the team’s defensive shutout with two tackles, two clearances and a blocked shot. In his second start for the team, the center back showed good range and an ability to distribute the ball well. His pass in the buildup to the Black & Gold’s first goal, switching the field with a long ball that was able to quickly change the point of attack, was emblematic of how useful having the defenders high up the field, and a left-footed center back, can be for Columbus.

Will Sands (8.0) – The Crew found its most success running things through the left side and Sands was a big part of that. While the wing back had an embarrassing slip on a shot in the first half, he made up for it by being relentless both offensively and defensively.

Darlington Nagbe (7.5) – Nagbe was more involved in the offensive side on Saturday, as he helped create two goals. On the first, Nagbe’s central positioning high in Salt Lake’s offensive third allowed him to help control the ball with others making the runs forward into the penalty box. On the second, Nagbe’s shot after a beautiful give-and-go rebounded to a teammate. Nagbe is far more dangerous when he is making deliberate runs into the 18-yard box and it showed in the team’s offensive production.

Darlington Nagbe dribbles for the Crew against Real Salt Lake. Credit: Sam Fahmi – Massive Report

Aidan Morris (10.0) – While his two goals certainly grabbed headlines, it was Morris’ two clearances, an interception and three tackles won that were truly impressive. He continues to lead MLS with 18 total tackles this season and his tenacity to find his second goal of the game, fighting to be first to the ball, showed the true value he brings to Columbus. Morris is a gritty, tenacious midfielder who is now just as comfortable scoring goals as stopping them.

Alexandru Matan (7.5) – While he may not have matched his performance against Atlanta, Matan still shined in this week’s Crew’s win. With two shots, the attacking midfielder was involved in the Black & Gold’s attack, while still showing hustle to cover defensively with a tackle and an interception. Additionally, Matan got his shot taking corner kicks.

Lucas Zelarayán (8.5) – The playmaker’s performance would typically be enough to earn him Man of the Match were it not for Morris’ game. Zelarayán’s backheel to assist on the first goal was the magic he brings to the game and his penalty kick, which he earned and converted, helped get Columbus going.

Christian Ramirez (7.5) – While Ramirez didn’t find the back of the net, it certainly wasn’t for a lack of trying. The forward recorded four shots and his first, a diving header, kickstarted the Crew’s offense. While Ramirez will be disappointed to not have put one of those shots into the back of the net, the Black & Gold will be pleased with how he has stepped up in Cucho Hernandez’s absence.


Jacen Russell-Rowe (7.0) – Russell-Rowe wasn’t able to gain a rhythm offensively coming off the bench, leading to another substitute appearance without recording a shot. He continued to show effort to help get a late goal, but he will need playing time to continue to develop.

Yaw Yeboah (7.5) – In only 20 minutes, Yeboah recorded two shots and his first MLS goal, providing a boost off the bench. Yeboah will hope that goal will kickstart lead to better things.

Sean Zawadzki (6.0) – Zawadzki, coming on in the 72nd minute with the game well in hand, helped the Crew see out the match. The central midfielder was 11 of 12 passing to help keep the ball and limit any late RSL attacks.

Max Arfsten (7.0) – Arfsten will take his first assist at the MLS level as his touch past the goalkeeper ended up getting finished by Yeboah in the 94th minute. The 21-year-old American didn’t have a huge chance to impress but made the most of his 11 minutes on the field.

Jimmy Medranda (N/A) – Medranda contributed a shot but only had seven touches in the final 11 minutes of game action.

Head Coach

Wilfred Nancy (9.0) – 10 goals in two games is a record for the Crew, and while the season is still young, it’s hard not to be optimistic about Nancy’s ability to get results. The Black & Gold controlled the game through precise passing that quickly changed the point of attack and allowed Columbus to maintain possession. The Crew’s pressing mentality makes them dangerous against teams that build out of the back and the group’s ability to break down tight spaces makes it a nightmare for teams trying to bunker and cede possession.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s