Jonathan Mensah has been a professional soccer player for about 10 years, a span during which he’s developed a pretty good feel for judging his own performances.
After a 5-0 loss Friday at Toronto FC, the 26-year-old centre-back knows he didn’t live up to his personal performance standards and that the Crew’s collective performance fell well short of what the team expected.
“It wasn’t good. I won’t wait for someone to tell me it wasn’t good. I’m still young, but I’ve been around for a while now and I know when it’s right or not. I’ll be the first person to say it wasn’t right,” Mensah said Monday. “We have to pick it up and just do things right for the team because I know what I can do. I know what my colleagues can do and if we’re not doing that we just have to talk to ourselves and get it right.”
Speaking about the team in general, Crew coach Gregg Berhalter said self-evaluation, paired with feedback from the coaching staff, is important to development.
“I think there’s performances like Saturday that it’s very clear, and then there’s some other subtle performances that the coaching staff may say it wasn’t as great or the player may feel worse about it than the coaching staff,” Berhalter said. “I think that can go either way but what you’d like is a good self-evaluation from the group to understand where they’re at.”
Mensah has played against the likes of FC Zenit Saint Petersburg in Russia and Lyon, Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain in France. Recalling those matchups, he said he doesn’t remember a defeat as bad as 5-0.
“I can say this is the biggest disappointing game in my career. It’s like motivation to me,” Mensah said. “We are the only team that gave them their first loss and going to there and we lose 5-0, there must be something that we’re not doing right.”
A soccer career that began when Mensah was a teenager has taught him to learn from mistakes.
“I started at 17 years old. I’ve been around. As a kid playing, you keep learning. You fail. It’s obvious because if you don’t fail you won’t know what you’re doing right or wrong,” Mensah said. “When I was very, very young it was kind of like too much energy, running all over the place and now you have to play, you know where to use energy. We keep growing, we keep learning and we keep improving.”
The bump in the road encountered by Crew SC Friday was also a personal one for Mensah. The designated player committed a foul on Tosaint Ricketts in the box that led to Toronto’s first goal, a Vincent Vazquez penalty box in the sixth minute. Another foul near the edge of the box set the table for a Vazquez free kick goal in the second half.
“It wasn’t what we were expecting and it was very disappointing from an individual point of view and collectively as well. Personally, I didn’t show up for that game. I wasn’t myself. I didn’t do what was expected of me and my colleagues also know what we didn’t do because if we did things right it was going to be a different result that came,” Mensah said. “It’s like a bump. It’s a hard bump and we’re just going to put this behind us and go into the Wednesday game very, very hard and prove that we’ve got talent and we have a good team and can prove we’re better than we were on Friday.”
Mensah found out late last week he was one of three Crew SC players called up to Ghana’s national team for its June 11 Africa Cup of Nations 2019 qualifier against Ethiopia in Ghana. He’ll also represent his country in a June 28 friendly against Mexico in Houston and a July 1 friendly against the United States in Connecticut.
Joining Mensah are Crew SC right back Harrison Afful and midfielder Mohammed Abu, whose recent selection comes after five years away from the national team. The trio will depart for Ghana after Crew SC’s Saturday game at Colorado.
“I think it’s great. I think it’s a reward for him and all the hard work he’s been putting in and we wish him all the best there,” Berhalter said of Abu. “It’s certainly an honor to be called into a country like Ghana. Very strong national team.”
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