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Crew’s Lucas Zelarayan named MLS Player of the Week

Zelarayan’s two clutch free kicks on Saturday earns him his first player of the week award.

Columbus Crew SC v New York City FC Photo by Ira L. Black - Corbis/Getty Images

Lucas Zelarayan’s accolade list keeps getting bigger. The Columbus Crew’s Argentine playmaker was named the Major League Soccer’s Player of the Week for Week 6 after scoring two late free kick goals in the Crew’s 2-1 win against New York City FC last Saturday. The two strikes from Zelarayan earned Columbus its first road win in 15 months and broke a two-game losing streak.

The Crew’s No. 10 was chosen as the league’s Player of the Week over Felipe Mora of the Portland Timbers, Gustavo Bou of the New England Revolution and Alan Pulido of Sporting Kansas City. Zelarayan is the first Black & Gold player to win the award since October of 2018 when Gyasi Zardes took it home. No Columbus player won the honor in 2019 or 2020.

For Zelarayan, this is also the sixth time he has been included in the MLS Team of the Week and the first time he has taken the player of the week award after a mixture of media and fan votes on Monday. In just a year and a half in MLS, the Crew’s most expensive signing has earned multiple accolades that most players don’t get once for an entire career. He is also the first player since 2018 to score three direct free kick goals in a single season.

In 2020, Zelarayan’s clutch performances earned him five Team of the Week nods, the MLS Newcomer of the Year award, the Columbus Crew Player of the Year and the MLS Cup MVP as the second MLS player to have three goal contributions in the Final, the other being Zelarayan’s fellow Argentine Guillermo Barros Schelotto in 2008. It’s fair to say that Zelarayan is already one of the best Crew players of all time with some of the best performances in club history in his short time in Columbus.

These performances began in 2020 when he scored the winning goal in the season opener against NYCFC. Four months later, Zelarayan brought Crew soccer back to an end after the COVID-19 pandemic pause with a free kick goal and assist against FC Cincinnati at the MLS is Back Tournament. After a handful of goals and assists in the regular season, he shined brightest on the biggest stage last season with his MLS Cup Final performance to earn the club’s second title.

Zelarayan has started 2021 hot with three free kick goals in MLS play, one coming against D.C. United on May 8 and the two he scored last Saturday against New York City. Black & Gold fans won’t quickly forget Zelarayan’ss valiant and passionate game against Monterrey in April in the CONCACAF Champions League. Wearing the captain’s armband, the Argentine provided an assist and scored against his former club, Tigres, arch rivals in Monterrey. The match ended 2-2.

The Crew will return to the pitch this Saturday at historic Crew Stadium for the team’s second match this season against Toronto FC. The offense is credited with five goals in league play with three Zelarayan free kicks and two D.C. own goals. Kick off from Columbus will be at 3:00 p.m.

MLS Team of the Week (Week 6)

Goalkeeper: Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union)

Defenders: Ryan Hollingshead (FC Dallas), Geoff Cameron (FC Cincinnati), Antonio Carlos (Orlando City), Josecarlos Van Rankin (Portland Timbers)

Midfielders: Lucas Zelarayan (Columbus Crew), Memo Rodriguez (Houston Dynamo), Diego Rossi (Los Angeles FC)

Forwards: Alan Pulido (Sporting Kansas City), Gustavo Bou (New England Revolution), Felipe Mora (Portland Timbers)

Coach: Jaap Stam (FC Cincinnati)

Bench: Pedro Gallese (Orlando City), Nouhou Tolo (Seattle Sounders), Jakob Glesnes (Philadelphia Union), Mauricio Pineda (Chicago Fire), Randall Leal (Nashville SC), Arnor Traustason (New England Revolution), Josef Martinez (Atlanta United)