Game Grades: Crew vs. Inter Miami

The Columbus Crew came into Saturday’s match against Inter Miami on a downward trend, after taking a draw and a loss in the team’s last two league matches and only barely beating USL Championship side Indy Eleven in the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday. However, the Black & Gold still found themselves in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, facing bottom-of-the-table Miami at home where the team had yet to lose a game this season.

In a back-and-forth contest, the Crew dominated possession with 70 percent of the ball and had more than twice as many shots as Miami. Columbus, however, ultimately lost 2-1.

The game came down to the fact that the Crew was unable to produce enough in the final third to find an equalizer or a winner. Two defensive lapses also resulted in Inter leaving with three points. The Black & Gold now head into a bye week trying to figure out how to get the ball in the net.

Here’s how the Columbus players performed in the match.


Patrick Schulte (6.0) – Schulte showed against Miami both the amount of skill that he has and the steps he still must take as a goalkeeper. Schulte was with three saves, but failed to make the one-on-one stop initially from Leonardo Campana and then hesitated for a fraction of a second which resulted in the Inter forward out-jumping his attempt to punch the ball away, leading to the second goal. Schulte still showed that he is the future for the Crew, but also that there is still room for improvement.  

Steven Moreira (5.0) – Moreira played for 68 minutes and failed to make an impact on the game. He contributed a single tackle and a single clearance on a mere 58 touches. While he completed a bunch of short passes, Moreira only made a single long pass and failed to make an impact in the offensive third.

Milos Degenek (N/A) – Degenek was injured early in the match, although not before he struggled to mark Campana on the initial goal. The injury may have actually happened while he tried to recover on the goal, as he was not right for the remaining six minutes on the pitch.

Gustavo Vallecilla (6.0) – Vallecilla was all over the pitch for Columbus. His 123 touches were far and away the most on the team. Those touches allowed him to contribute significantly with two tackles, two interceptions, a clearance and a blocked shot, and he also contributed a shot on the offensive side. Vallecilla was emblematic though of the team issues at large, essentially plenty of touches but little to show for it in terms of final results.

Mohamed Farsi (6.5) – Farsi was energetic, especially in the first half, and made several runs into the final third along the right side. However, the wing back again failed to connect his long balls to switch the point of attack. His speed draws defenders down the right side, leaving space down the left. However, he only completed one out of four long passes, turning the ball over and limiting the Black & Gold’s attack.

Yaw Yeboah (5.5) – Yeboah played well in the attacking third, showing why he is a natural winger. Unfortunately, he was exposed defensively. Playing out of position, Yeboah lacks the defensive acumen needed in the wing back spot.

Aidan Morris (6.5) – Morris got stuck into challenges, was consistently on the ball and was the proverbial motor for the team, springing into the attacks. The central midfielder put a shot on target and contributed a tackle in his 84 minutes of work but struggled to find that final pass to break down Miami.

Darlington Nagbe (6.0) – The Crew was most dangerous the higher Nagbe pushed into the attacking third, and he didn’t do that until later in the match. Columbus needs Nagbe to make the final pass rather than just solely keeping possession for possession’s sake. An indicative stat is that even though Nagbe had a 93 percent pass completion percentage, only four of those passes went into the final third, and none went into the 18-yard box.

Lucas Zelarayán (7.5) – Zelarayán was brilliant with seven shots, two of them on target, six key passes, while also picking up an assist on the team’s lone goal of the night. There is very little to criticize about his performance except for the final result. Zelarayán led the Crew’s build-up play but settled for long shots outside the 18-yard box. The attacking midfielder must be more clinical in the final third and use his skill to create more dangerous opportunities. On an important note, Zelarayán’s seven shots only averaged .04 expected goals/shot.  

Alexandru Matan (6.0) – Matan had a very quiet 45 minutes before he was subbed off at halftime. The playmaker hasn’t been able to show the creativity from early on in the season.

Cucho Hernandez (7.5) – Hernandez’s performance was impressive but not enough to make a difference. His goal was a thing of beauty and showed what makes him one of MLS’s most lethal finishers. However, the Black & Gold were constantly on the attack and Hernandez lacked the clinical finishing in the final third to turn the game. Like Zelarayán, Hernandez only averaged .05 expected goals/shot and .39 expected goals overall on his eight shots.


Phillip Quinton (5.5) – Quinton’s biggest shortcoming was his failure to cover Campana on Miami’s second goal. The big 6-foot-6” defender lost his man in the crowd and ended up coming in too late to prevent the headed goal. The center back was 37 for 37 in medium-distance, connecting passes, as well as 68 for 72 on passes overall.

Jacen Russell-Rowe (5.0) – Russell-Rowe had a full half to incorporate himself in the game, and while his movement was better, and it was clear that he was trying to work himself into the offense more than being a point man, he is still struggling to find his footing at the MLS level. The forward contributed only a single shot and was seldom in a dangerous position as the Crew searched for the equalizer.

Sean Zawadzki (6.0) – Zawadzki was substituted into the match in the 68th minute as a more offensively-minded central midfielder, but was unable to capture the magic that came the last time he came off the bench. 

Christian Ramirez (N/A) – Ramirez came on too late to make a difference, recording only a single touch after his 84th minute substitution.

Head Coach

Wilfred Nancy (6.0) – The next two weeks are important for Nancy, as he struggles to pull the team out of its current scoring drought. After 12 goals in a three-game stretch, the Black & Gold have only scored three goals in their last three MLS competitions, and four goals in their last four matches overall. With the return of the team’s lead striker, the team should be scoring more goals. It will come down to Columbus taking the next two weeks to focus on the production in the final third and for the key players to find more quality, rather than quantity, in their shot selection.

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