After a difficult defensive trip to face the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, the Columbus Crew welcomed the new week of training with an individual accolade. An offensive standout performance by Black & Gold’s Lucas Zelarayán earned the Argentinian his second MLS Team of the Week award of the season in only the second week of the season.
Against the Earthquakes, it was Zelarayán who scored two of the three goals in the 3-3 draw. In the 40th minute, with the Quakes up a goal and down a player, Zelarayán finished off a strong charge to the penalty area by teammate and fullback Steven Moreira. Moreira avoided multiple tackles to find Zelarayán to the left of the goalkeeper and Zelarayán finished the shot to put the Crew level with the home team.
In the 73rd minute, Zelarayán added another free kick goal to his MLS stat sheet, his seventh since joining the Crew in 2020. The Quakes brought down midfielder Darlington Nagbe just a few yards outside of the penalty area. Shooting from the righthand side, winger Yaw Yeboah acted like he was going up for the shot that nobody expected him to take, with Zelarayán coming in second. The Argentined curled in the shot just below the top right-hand corner of the crossbar, putting the Crew up two goals after a 68th minute Gyasi Zardes goal.
So far in 2022, the awards for the Crew’s No. 10 are more than warranted. In two matches, Zelarayán has three goals and an assist. In the season opener against the Vancouver Whitecaps last week, Zelaryan assisted on the first goal with a perfectly placed pass to forward Miguel Berry. In the 87th minute, he followed it up with a goal of his own in the 4-0 lopsided Crew victory.
This is Zelarayán’s 13th time on the MLS Team of the Week award list, and the third time he’s won the award two weeks in a row. In 2020, during the first two weeks of the MLS is Back Tournament, Zelarayán was named to the bench of the MLS Team of the Week. Last season, Zelarayán received the award back-to-back in the 33rd and 34th weeks of the season.
Dating back to Oct. 20 of the 2021 season, Zelarayán’s scored eight goals and assisted on three more in seven matches, a run that has Columbus’ offense looking more potent than it’s ever looked. The Black & Gold’s seven goals in the first two matches of the season is a team record.
Since joining the Crew, Columbus has only lost two matches where Zelarayán has either scored or assisted on a goal, earning points in 17 of 19 games. Of those 17, only three were draws. The losses both came in August of 2021 when the Black & Gold struggled with injuries the most. It’s a stat that stresses the importance of Zelarayán to the success of Columbus if it wasn’t already evident.