Since his first season with the Columbus Crew, Artur has earned a soft spot with Black & Gold fans because of his dedication and his hard work for the team on defense. Columbus’ 2020 Major League Soccer campaign has, however, presented a different and more exciting version of the Brazilian midfielder to anyone following the team.
Already established as an elite defensive midfielder in MLS, Artur had his most productive offensive season to date with the Crew in 2020, ending the regular season with two goals and four assists in 22 matches played.
These numbers stack up considerably well against the sum of his offensive production in his first three seasons in Columbus. Over that time, Artur combined for one goal and five assists in 92 matches in both the regular season and in the MLS Cup playoffs.
According to the Brazilian, the arrival of Darlington Nagbe ahead of the current season offered him more opportunities to push forward and try to help the team offensively as well.
“Playing with Nagbe helps a little bit,” the 24-year-old Artur recently reflected. “We can switch positions and move a lot on the field. With that I’ve been trying to be further ahead of the three-man line we typically have in the back and to find the right times and the rights spots to push forward and support offense. It depends a little bit on the opponent and what they do defensively, but I’m always looking to spots where I can help on offense. If I’m in a good spot and can push forward, I’ll do it.”
Glory to God! So happy for my first regular season goal for the Crew and even happier for the 3 points! #Crew96 @ColumbusCrewSC pic.twitter.com/1Gju8sAfkX— arturl33 (@arturl33) October 19, 2020
Another positive aspect of Artur’s increased offensive production is that it’s not affecting his typically significant defensive contributions to the team. His 3.5 tackles per game are the most since his debut season and his 1.3 interceptions are on par with the 2018 season, in which he had 1.4 per game. His recent offensive production has been even more impressive as the Brazilian produced two goals, against New York City FC and the Philadelphia Union, and one assist, against Atlanta United, over the last five matches, more than any other Crew player in the same period.
With the Eastern Conference playoffs now coming at the end of the week, it doesn’t hurt to have another offensive option to work with.
“I hope I can continue with that momentum heading into the playoffs,” Artur added. “I’m more comfortable now in those kinds of spots and I want to get more used to scoring and getting assists. That’s the kind of player I want to be, not only one that’s able to help on defense or on building the game, but also with goals and assists.”
.@arturl33 WITH THE RIP #Crew96 | #CLBvPHI | 1-0 pic.twitter.com/oJ73dEsmD8— x - Columbus Crew SC (@ColumbusCrewSC) November 1, 2020
Whether Artur manages to carry his offensive momentum to the postseason or not, he’ll still be very important to the Crew’s playoff run. The Brazilian is part of a midfielder trio with Nagbe and Designated Player Lucas Zelarayan that’s the heart and soul of this Black & Gold team.
With his midfield partners healthy again and Artur adding a new dimension to his game, head coach Caleb Porter has every reason to be confident about what’s to come next.
“Darlington and Artur are our engine room,” the coach explained. “When we can get our three center midfielders together (along with Lucas Zelarayan), that’s a big part of how we play and how we dictate games. To have Artur, Darlington and Lucas in that center of the park, it’s so important, it really changes everything for us and we’ve seen that.”