Columbus Crew head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter has praised Ghana centre-back Jonathan Mensah following their win over New York Red Bulls in Major League Soccer Eastern Conference semi-final first leg on Sunday.
The 28-year-old was a pillar in the Black and Gold's defence as USA attacker of Ghanaian descent Gyasi Zardes scored to seal a 1-0 triumph at MAPFRE Stadium.
It was the Black Star's 29th league appearance involving 28 starts this season.
"I think he [Mensah] has had an outstanding year, I really do," Berhalter said, as reported by his club's official website.
"I think he’s been, to me, a Best XI caliber player. To me he’s been outstanding.
"If you look around the League, with a lot of center backs there are growing pains.
"Getting used to the League, adapting to the tempo of the League, the physicality of the League, what the refs let you get away with, what they let the strikers get away with.
"So, as he’s adapted, he’s a smart player, he’s an intelligent player and he’s a warrior. You see that.
"In duels, he’s amazing. He’s outstanding in duels – really, really strong."
Berhalter also spoke on the Ghanaian's performance in Sunday's game.
"I think Jonathan [Mensah] and Josh [Williams] were outstanding," the coach said of his centre-backs.
"When you think about any of the guys that played 120 minutes, to come up with this type of physical performance, it was amazing.
"I talked to the guys at halftime, I said, ‘guys this is exactly what we had in mind. Great job’. So, Johnny [Mensah] brought it and so did Josh.
"A lot of tackles, a lot of duels won, a solid game by them."
Mensah, who joined Crew from Russian outfit Anzhi Makhachkala last year, had 31 league outings involving 30 first XI berths to his name last season.