It only took 21 minutes for the Columbus Crew’s new signing, Cucho Hernández, to score his first Major League S goal, coming on as a substitute in Columbus’ 3-2 comeback victory against the Chicago Fire on Saturday night. That and a brace by Black & Gold winger Derrick Etienne Jr. earned both a spot on the MLS Team of the Week.
At halftime, the Crew was down 2-0 against the last place Fire side. Head coach Caleb Porter switched Columbus’ 3-5-2 formation to his usual 4-2-3-1, adding Etienne and Luis Díaz up front in the attack.
Before Hernández’s match-winning goal, it was Etienne who put the Black & Gold in a position to win. A minute after Hernández entered, midfielder Aidan Morris connected with playmaker Lucas Zelarayán, whose slight touch forward landed at the feet of Etienne. The Haitian winger slotted in his first of two goals.
In the 75th minute, Zelarayán had a chance to double Columbus’ lead but laid a pass off to Díaz, who sent a cross in front of goal to a waiting Etienne to tie the match. Etienne's second goal earned him his fourth MLS Team of the Week award in his eighth season. Of those four, he’s received the award three times in 2022, the best offensive production season of his career.
Through 17 games played, Etienne has five goals and five assists, topping his previous best of five goals and one assist in 2018. Week 19’s honor is the first time in 2022 that Etienne’s been named in the starting XI of the MLS Team of the Week and not the bench.
For Hernández, this is his first honor in his first minutes of MLS play. The Colombian international, who joined the Crew from Watford FC of the English Premier League in a record-setting tranfer, impressed off the ball too in his 28 minutes on the field. In terms of the match-winner, Hernández showed quick reflexes to receive a pass from Díaz behind the Fire defense on his side of the field.
Hernández showed speed and finishing ability when he charged halfway down the field and chipped a shot in for Columbus’ third goal of the match, sealing the victory. Before receiving a bench MLS Team of the Week honor, Hernández’s name was added to the referee’s book, receiving his first yellow card, this one for taking his shirt off in celebration.
There’s still time before Hernández starts and plays a full 90 minutes, with the striker still working his fitness back up to 100 percent, especially as he joins the Crew in a three-match week.
Díaz, who wasn’t named on the MLS Team of the Week, also had a case. In 45 minutes, the winger had two assists, including the match-winner. His offensive pressure also forced a Chicago red card in the final minutes of the match, after receiving an elbow to the face from Miguel Navarro.
So far in 2022, nine players Black & Gold players have received a Team of the Week honor, with Etienne’s three matching Zelarayán on the season for the team’s most. In Week 17, goalkeeper Eloy Room and forward Jacen Russell-Rowe received the weekly award after the Crew’s 2-1 victory against Toronto FC.