The Columbus Crew appeared to be rolling on Saturday night at Lower.com Field after a terrific first half performance that had the team head into the locker room with a two-goal lead. However, it was Orlando City SC who came out for the second half better, scoring in the 49th minute to half the deficit and then again in the first minute of stoppage time, meaning the Black & Gold had to settle for a 2-2 draw.
Columbus is now winless in the team’s past four games, going 0-2-2, and hasn’t won a home game in MLS play since early April. The Crew now sits in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, tied with seven other teams on either side of the playoff line.
Much like the overall play from the Black & Gold, the individual performances were inconsistent throughout the game. Let’s take a look at how the Columbus players performed.
Patrick Schulte (5.0) – Schulte was decent with his distribution, but only recorded a single save, letting Orlando’s other two shots on goal into the back of the net. While neither goal was purely his fault, the goalkeeper needed to do better with both attempts. This was also the second straight game that Schulte allowed a goal from poor set piece defensive organization, a skill he needs to improve moving forward.
Steven Moreira (6.0) – Moreira put together a serviceable performance for the Crew before his 77th minute substitution, recording a tackle, an interception, a clearance and a blocked shot. OCSC’s goal came away from the right center back’s side of the field, as was the case for most of the visitor’s opportunities. However, with the Lions’ willingness to attack the Black & Gold, Moreira was unable to help his team come forward as he has done in other games. This limited any offensive contribution from Moreira.
Philip Quinton (5.0) – Quinton was asked to do a lot for Columbus, anchoring the backline with the injured Milos Degenek unable to play on Saturday. However, the center back struggled to do so, falling down on Orlando’s first goal and was unable to cover Facundo Torres as the Orlando midfielder beat him on the dribble before assisting Ercan Kara’s finish. Quinton also was not a factor on any of the Crew’s corner kicks, an area he and the rest of the team are still struggling to figure out.
Gustavo Vallecilla (6.0) – Vallecilla had an up-and-down game on Saturday. On one hand, the left center back made some key stops, recording two tackles, two clearances and two interceptions. On the other hand, he led the team in fouls with four committed and almost gave OCSC an easy goal in the 81st minute when a defensive miscue led to clear cut chance that was only just missed.
Mohamed Farsi (7.0) – Farsi performed well against the Lions. The wing back’s presence was felt on both sides of the field as he recorded two tackles and was a key distributor in the attack. Farsi’s assist on the Crew’s second goal was an inch-perfect pass, leading to an easy finish.
Yaw Yeboah (7.0) – After a terrific game in the U.S. Open Cup midweek, Yeboah had his best performance of the MLS season on Saturday. Playing as a left wing back, Yeboah was consistently involved in the attack. He created numerous opportunities as well as recording three shots, two of them on target.
Aidan Morris (7.0) – Morris was perhaps the most important player on the field for the Crew against Orlando. The central midfielder’s 87 touches were over 20 more than the next highest player. With Lucas Zelarayán out, Morris facilitated more, pushing higher up the field to support the three-man frontline and helped the Black & Gold keep possession, missing only a single pass of his 59 attempts.
Darlington Nagbe (7.5) – Nagbe’s willingness to push higher up the field paid dividends as well for Columbus. Multiple times, the central midfielder was able to retain possession and recirculate opportunities to help the Crew. It most clearly paid off with his first goal of the season, a poacher’s finish that was all about how Nagbe saw the opportunity and moved into the penalty box to pounce on a simple chance.
Alexandru Matan (7.0) – Matan’s work to earn the assist on the Black & Gold’s first goal was terrific. Playing more as a right winger in this match, Matan’s movement was skillful and he was able to deliver a perfect ball across the face of goal. Matan also led the team in crosses, directly leading to some great goal-scoring opportunities. However, Matan had an opportunity to elevate his game with Zelarayan out but, unlike how he did previously this season, failed to be a dominant, ball-focused midfielder.
Cucho Hernandez (8.0) – Nine shots, but no goals was the storyline of the night for Hernandez. While the striker, who played more on the right than down the middle, almost had his much-deserved goal in the 64th minute, it was called back for offside after a VAR review. Even without a goal, Hernandez’s nonstop work rate reminded fans what the team missed when he was out injured. While there were a couple of times that he took a shot that should have been a pass, seeing Hernandez get back to the field with confidence and swagger should lead to more goals in upcoming games.
Jacen Russell-Rowe (7.0) – This a hard game to judge for Russell-Rowe. The forward did manage to put the ball into the back of the net to put the Crew two goals ahead. His positioning and effort on that play and others showed a ton of promise for the young striker. But in several key moments, Russell-Rowe made the wrong pass or got disposed which stifled the Black & Gold attack.
Malte Amundsen (6.0) – Amundsen made his first MLS appearance for the Crew as a 77th minute substitute, and he performed very capably in the limited times he was called upon, despite playing out of position. Amundsen recorded an interception and a clearance but only had eight touches over the final 19 or so minutes of game time.
Sean Zawadzki (6.0) – Zawadzki had a minimal impact after coming on in the 78th minute. The midfielder had nine touches, completed all seven of his passes and didn’t make any mistakes during his appearance.
Isaiah Parente (6.5) – Parente had the chance to win the game at the death, with one shot needing to be miraculously saved by Orlando goalkeeper Pedro Gallese and the other going well wide of the goal. After coming on in the 90th minute Parente, immediately made an impact on the game and was close to earning Columbus all three points.
Christian Ramirez (N/A) – Unlike Parente, Ramirez was unable to make an impact after his 89th minute substitution, only recording four touches over the final seven minutes of the game.
Wilfred Nancy (5.0) – There were a lot of interesting decisions from Nancy this game, including leaving Zelarayán out of the squad and starting both Hernandez and Russell-Rowe. It came close to working for the Crew but his team was unable to close out the game late. The Black & Gold have now lost two games from winning positions and finished Saturday with a draw despite being up two goals. While the style of play has been eminently more exciting, at the end of the day, Columbus has started to show similar struggles to close out games that haunted the team last season.
2 thoughts on “Game Grades: Crew vs. Orlando City SC”
Reminded me of Porter Ball… yet again.
I think the grades align very closely to my views, with one exception. Gustavo Vallecilla was extremely poor Saturday night. He was directly responsible for one goal and indirectly responsible for another. He routinely gives the ball away cheaply, and did it Saturday. Unfortunately, we have to use him for a while. I’d score him in the 4.5 range.
We are so thin on defense, it’s gotten to a critical point. We will continue to hemorrhage points because of it. We will have to hope some of our young prospects can contribute, because we can’t use the window until mid-summer.