BTN - Defense

As part of a series, examines key numbers and trends surrounding the players. In this edition, we take a closer look at impressive Crew defensive numbers.

Gyasi Zardesand Lucas Zelarayanhave scored seven of the Crew's eight goals in 2020, but as prominent as that partnership has been so far, allowing only one goal in 360 minutes of play is a feat worth particular attention.

BY THE NUMBERS | Examining some eye-catching defensive trends so far in 2020 -

If you tuned into Thursday's 2-0 win over the New York Red Bulls, the notable defensive stat coming out of that match was zero shots allowed on goal:

Notably, that match went over 108 total minutes if we include first- and second-half stoppage time.

Either way, there's no one person to which the defensive showcase can be accredited too, but if there was one player worthy of Man of the Match honors, it was Jonathan Mensah, who totaled a game-high 14 clearances to go with a team-high seven recoveries as he played the entire match. For comparison, Mensah compiled 16 clearances total in the first four games of 2019, let alone recording 14 in a single game as he did on Thursday.

It was just a taste of what we have seen this year from the captain, who ranks first in the League in clearances (28), headed clearances (15), and is tied for first in duel success rate among defenders with at least 25 duels (73.08 percent). Additionally, all of this came five days after Mensah completed the second-most passes in an MLS game in nearly a decade:

Typically not one to point out individual performances, particularly when highlighting team-oriented defensive play, Head Coach Caleb Portergave Mensah credit for his continued leadership on the field.

"I thought the man of the match [on Thursday], if I have to name one, was Jonah Mensah, because I thought, literally, that he was a complete animal in the box, and I don’t know how many aerial duals he won, but I know the last game he was close to setting the record for passing, he must have set a record for heading balls out of the box ... and he was a man among boys, and I thought he was incredible to our team. He’s showing why he’s our captain."

Standing behind Mensah was Eloy Room, and though we weren't able to see much of him in action on Thursday (and for good reason), he has certainly earned himself a spot in the conversation as one of the top goalkeepers in the League currently.

Since his Crew debut start on July 20, 2019, the Black & Gold have posted an 8-2-6 overall record with Room in goal, totaling 30 points in 16 games for an average of 1.88 points per game.

For perspective, last year's MLS Cup champion, Seattle Sounders FC, who the Crew tied 1-1 on the road back on March 7, averaged 1.65 points per game during the 2019 regular season.

In four starts this year, Room leaves little room for improvement in save percentage, ranking second in MLS at 88.89 percent (8 saves, 9 shots faced). Notably, the nine shots faced is the third-lowest in the League.

Of Room's six total shutouts since last July, three have come in 2020 already, including two in the MLS is Back Tournament. That trio of shutouts leaves the club tied with Real Salt Lake for first in MLS, though offensively, RSL has only posted three goals this year compared to Columbus's eight.

As for shutouts, the League average stands at .77 shutouts, nearly four-times less than Columbus's current rate, while the average goals-conceded total is 5.65. Columbus remains at one, again tied with RSL for the fewest in the League.

Of course, the Club's early reputation for shutout play this year can't be attributed to any particular person, but it can be attributed to a certain trend. As much fun as it's been to see the uptick offensively, if there's anything that's as comforting as converting on solid chances around the box, it's looking at the scoresheet at the end of the day and seeing none of those for the opponent.

Kickoff on Tuesday vs. ATL is set for 8 p.m. ET. The match will be shown on ESPN2, TUDN, & TSN, as well as the TUDN App and TSN App. Fans can also listen to English and Spanish radio streams here.

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