The 2022 international break is bittersweet for supporters of the Columbus Crew. Bitter because there isn’t any Crew soccer to watch or attend. On the sweet end of things, the first 13 matches of the season haven’t elicited feelings of confidence that Columbus is ready to win another MLS Cup and sometimes a break is nice. Especially within the club, now that four new names are using this time to recover from injuries.
Massive Report is here to highlight some of the most freeing moments of the season, bringing you the top 10 goals of the early season. Our staff looked through the goals and ranked the best 10 out 17 scored in the MLS regular season All 10 of these goals were judged not only for the technical skill but the moments surrounding them.
10. Erik Hurtado 89th minute vs. New England Revolution
(Fast forward to the 52nd second for the Hurtado goal)
. @MiguelBerry92 opened the scoring and Hurtado equalized late. @detienne_10 provided both assists in the Crew's 2-2 draw with New England. Relive the drama ⬇️#Crew96 | #NEvCLB pic.twitter.com/XVpC2XfvI1— The Crew (@ColumbusCrew) May 8, 2022
The 10th goal on the list isn’t here because of the technical ability behind the goal. On the surface, it’s a great cross that ended with a simple tap into the back of the net. It’s the context that puts this goal above seven others.
When this goal was scored, the Crew was down 2-1 after entering halftime with a 1-0 lead. Two defensive lapses put Columbus behind in the second half. In the 84th minute, Hurtado came into the match in hopes of an extra attacker bringing the Black & Goldl level.
Winger Derrick Etienne Jr. received a pass with a wide-open right sideline and sent in a cross five minutes into Hurtado’s substitute appearance. The striker scored his first goal for the Crew which stole two points from the home team.
9. Erik Hurtado 45th minute vs. Atlanta United
Hurtado has two goals this season and both made this list. His second of his season, and ninth on the list, came in Columbus’ last regular season match.
After being traded to the Black & Gold midseason last year, Hurtado struggled and didn’t have his contract renewed in the offseason. He worked hard and made the team and then scored two goals in one start and four appearances in 2022.
Hurtado’s goal against Atlanta put his work ethic on display. The Crew took advantage of a depleted United backline and played longball before first half stoppage time. With one man to beat, Hurtado flicked the ball from his left foot to his right, broke away from the defense and slotted a shot to the right side of the net for a 2-0 Columbus lead.
8. Derrick Etienne Jr. 25th minute vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
Remember the first match of the season? Columbus won 4-0 and the world was the Black & Gold’s oyster. Forget about most of the next 12 matches for a moment and remember Etienne’s goal.
In the 25th minute, the Crew was up 1-0 with the Whitecaps looking to cut into Columbus’ lead. The home team took advantage of the extra space, however when winger Yaw Yeboah sent in a pass to Etienne from midfield and this goal made the top 10 for equal parts pass reception and goal. Etienne received the lobbing pass with one touch, making a difficult move look easy, took the pass and used the top of his boot to lace the ball past the goal line.
On the video of the goal, watch it for the goal but stay for the Griddy.
7. Lucas Zelarayán 87th minute vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
The lucky No. 7 on this list isn’t because of the moment of the match or the pressure of the situation. Zelarayán’s 87th minute goal was scored as Vancouver waved a white flag. This goal is higher up the list because of the work to create the finished product.
Up three goals at home, Zelarayán wanted his stamp on the contest. Etienne dribbled through the Whitecaps defense like he was playing keep away from a youth team. The Haitian international found Zelarayán who didn’t want Etienne to have all the dribbling fun and after beating the last defender for his first goal of the season.
6. Lucas Zelarayán 40th minute vs. San Jose Earthquakes
A week after Columbus opened the season with a four-goal route, the Crew traveled to the West Coast to take on the San Jose Earthquake. Enter No. 6 on the list.
This goal is similar to No. 7, except fullback Steven Moreira faced a side that had a one-goal lead. After the Frenchman ran parallel to the penalty area, avoiding two defenders in the process, he sent a crisp pass to Zelarayán who curled a shot into the top right corner.
5. Darlington Nagbe 95th minute vs. New York Red Bulls
Nagbe doesn’t often score goals, but when he does it, it’s hard to miss it. The 2020 MLS Goal of the Year winner is known for a highlight reel strike every season or so. In the fourth match of the season against the Red Bulls, Nagbe scored not a banger but certainly a memorable finish.
Before stoppage time, Zelarayán went to the ground with a knee injury. Down a goal, a superstar, and with only 10 men on the field, substitute James Igbekeme won a tackle deep in the Crew’s defensive midfield and, with the whistle dangerously close to the mouth of the head official, the Black & Gold charged down the field. Substitute winger Alexandru Matan saw daylight down the left sideline and moved the ball to the middle of the park due to holdup play by forward Gyasi Zardes.
Zardes found another substitute winger in Luís Diaz who waited for a springing Moreira. The fullback sent a pass into the penalty box, past Matan and, after a minor deflection, Nagbe was on the end to use the tip of his big toe to gently grab a draw from the clutches of defeat.
4. Lucas Zelarayán 73rd minute vs. San Jose Earthquakes
In the 73rd minute against San Jose, Columbus was up 2-1 and the Earthquake had a bold idea to foul the Black & Gold a few feet outside of the penalty area. What happened next is abnormal to the league but increasingly normal for Crew supporters.
Up stepped Zelarayán. Yeboah tried to trick the Earthquake, taking a few steps as if he was about to take the kick. Nobody fell for the trick but it didn’t matter. Zelarayán sent the ball over the wall and right under the crossbar for his second of the match, putting the Crew up by two goals with 17 minutes left.
3. Lucas Zelarayán 56th minute vs. Toronto FC
Anytime Toronto comes to Columbus, it gives supporters a reason to boo for 90 minutes. Early in the 2022 season, Zelarayán gave a convincing reason to cheer.
Down a goal from a 14th minute set piece, the Crew entered the second half of a freezing home match looking to continue their run of first month success. Etienne received a pass on the edge of the penalty area and gave the slightest touch to the ball, under defensive pressure. Charging toward the ball was Zelarayán. The Argentine then sent a shot that stuck to the grass and flew past a diving Toronto goalkeeper to put Columbus level. Shots like Zelarayán’s either hit a defender or end 20 rows up the stands. Zelarayán’s skill put a low percentage shot in the third spot of the countdown.
2. Pedro Santos 28th minute vs. D.C. United
On April 30, the Columbus Crew welcomed D.C. United to Lower.com Field on the back of three shutout defeats in MLS play, a 2-1 loss in the US Open Cup to USL Championship side Detroit City FC and a goalless draw against Sporting Kansas City. Plus, Zelarayan was out with ann injury
With the free kick wizard out of commission, fullback Pedro Santos did his best Zelarayán impression on a 28th minute free kick just outside the left corner of the penalty area.
Santos didn’t hit the shot like Zelarayán’s curlers but rather the Portuguese playmaker opted for heavy metal music over symphony. Santos found a space in the wall and blasted a free kick that opened the floodgates on the evening.
1. Darlington Nagbe 75th minute vs. D.C. United
Do you really need an explanation for why this is No. 1?
How does your top 10 goals look this season? Which goals were missed on this list? Let us know in the comments or on the Massive Report Twitter page.