Saturday’s match between the Columbus Crew and New York City FC was a thrilling five-goal contest. In it, the Black & Gold went down early, fought back to secure a lead and then kept fighting to pull off a 3-2 victory against New York City FC, the second place team in the Eastern Conference. On Monday, playmaker Lucas Zelarayán earned his fifth MLS Team of the Week award for his two-goal performance in the win.
It’s no surprise that when Zelarayán’s done well in 2022, so have the Black & Gold. In the six matches where the Argentine has scored for Columbus, the Crew’s lost lost was the 2-1 come-from-behind victory against CF Montreal last Wednesday.
On Saturday, things didn’t start well for the Black & Gold, giving up a third-minute own goal, off the food of Columbus center back Jonathan Mensah. After Cucho Hernández tied the match in the 20th minute, Zelarayán and the Crew benefited from a rare mistake by New York goalkeeper Sean Johnson. Johnson tried to start the play from his own penalty area and passed directly to Black & Gold winger Luis Díaz. From the change in possession, Díaz found Zelarayán at the top of the penalty area and he found the top left corner for a 2-1 Columbus lead.
After allowing a Gabriel Pereira goal in the 64th minute, Zelarayán and the Crew responded again. In the 75th minute, once again Díaz passed to Zelarayán in the penalty area, with Zelarayán finishing off the chance. If the pass hadn’t deflected off a City defender, it would have marked Díaz’s third assist of the night, after he also assisted on the first two goals.
The Black & Gold held onto the lead, earning their biggest victory at Lower.com Field in the 2022 season. Columbus now looks to return to the form that saw a team with most of the current roster lift the 2020 MLS Cup.
Zelarayán’s fifth MLS Team of the Week award leads the team. Winger Derrick Etienne Jr. and Hernández each have been on the Team of the Week three times. Goalkeeper Eloy Room, defenders Pedro Santos, Mensah, midfielders Darlington Nagbe and Aidan Morris and forward Jacen Russell-Rowe round out the nine Crew players who have also been on the Team of the Week in 2022.
Missing from this week’s edition was Díaz, who was crucial in the Black & Gold’s attack and showed his growth at the position.
Zelarayán has returned to the form that earned him the MLS Player of the Month award in March. Since returning from the injury list and Hernández’s debut on July 9 against the Chicago Fire, Zelarayán has four goals and six assists in the last six matches. So far this year, Zelarayán has scored eight total, with only one from the penalty spot, and assisted on 10. Zelarayán also leads the league in goals from outside the penalty area, scoring four of his eight.