Saturday’s 3-0 victory for the Columbus Crew doesn’t only bring a return to the win column for the Black & Gold. On Monday, the Crew also returned to the MLS Team of the Week. After six weeks left off the weekly award, defender Pedro Santos and midfielder Darlington Nagbe put Columbus back on the 11, with Santos in the starting 11 and Nagbe on the bench.
For the first time in 2022, Santos was named to the award. The honor is well overdo for the fullback. After switching in the offseason from winger to fullback, there were questions surrounding the move being a good thing for the Black & Gold. Santos put those worries to rest and then some.
Santos’ play on both sides of the ball this year has stood out, placing him in the conversation for the best left back in the league. Saturday, the Portuguese fullback scored his first goal of the season, and first for Columbus in 388 match minutes.
That goal came from a free kick. With midfielder Lucas Zelarayán starting on the bench with a knee injury, Santos stepped up to free kick duty in the 28th minute. Santos sent in a strike that got through the legs of a leaping D.C. United defensive wall and past former Crew goalkeeper Jon Kempin.
Columbus went up a goal, and it opened up the Crew to score two more. The second of the two came from Nagbe. In the 75th minute, a Black & Gold corner kick deflected off the foot of the United defense, and the ball popped high into the sky. As the ball came down, Nagbe connected, and sent the shot past Kempin in what’s an early Goal of the Year candidate.
While it’s too early to claim the Goal of the Year for 2022, with most of the season still to go, if Nagbe wins it wouldn’t be that much of a surprise. While Nagbe doesn’t score goals often, when he does, they’re out of this world.
On Aug 20, 2020, Nagbe kicked up the ball in front of himself, and sent a rocket of a lob past the Chicago Fire in Columbus’ 3-0 victory. That goal netted Nagbe the MLS Goal of the Year for 2020, awarded two weeks before Columbus won MLS Cup against the Seattle Sounders, also in a 3-0 victory.
This is the 10th Team of the Week award for Santos and seventh for Nagbe’s time in Black & Gold. Santos’ award is the first Team of the Week honor for him this season, and his first since week 30 of the 2021 MLS season.