The Columbus Crew had the team’s home opener of the young 2023 MLS campaign against rival D.C. United. Columbus also got to welcome back former midfielder Pedro Santos, who signed with D.C. during the offseason. It was a Crewsmas masterpiece display, as the home side cruised to a 2-0 win.
The first half started off promising, with Columbus on the front foot as they did last week. It didn’t take long for the Crew to strike first however, with Lucas Zelarayan receiving a pass inside the penalty area from Cucho Hernandez. The Armenian midfielder spun around his defender, and slot the ball home in the 10th minute of play to give the Crew a 1-0 lead.
The Black & Gold did not let up, generating chance after chance.
Hernández almost gave the home side a 2-0 lead in the 35th minute, when Alexanru Matan served a low cross to the head of the forward, but the opportunity was easily collected by the United net minder.
D.C. would settle into the game later as the half progressed on, with United’s most dangerous chance coming in the 36th minute of play, when Christian Benteke had a towering header just go over the crossbar.
Columbus, yet again attacking ferociously, had a good opportunity when Matan and Zelarayan played a nifty give-and-go with one another, but the chance was wasted.
Just before halftime, the Black & Gold would see their lead double when Zelarayan would put the ball top shelf into the back of the net for his second on the night.
Hernandez almost got his name on the scoresheet after defender Mohamed Farsi sent a mid-range cross into the box that found the head of the Colombian, but it was an easy save for the D.C. United keeper to keep the score 2-0.
As the second half came upon the night sky of Lower.com Field, United would see a good portion of possession, until Columbus decided to take control again. Yaw Yeboah took the ball in stride dribbling towards the penalty area, but was tripped up.
On the ensuing free kick, Hernandez had shot on goal that just missed the far post.
Nothing to show since the 53rd minute when Columbus had the aforementioned free kick, but almost a glimpse of brilliancy by Zelarayan as he caught the D.C. keeper off of his line, deciding to go for a Hail Mary chip shot from midfield, but the attempt was just high and wide.
A great bounce back
After dropping their season opener 4-1 to the Philadelphia Union, the Crew had the momentum with them, back at home with a sellout crowd of 20,391 standing behind them. The atmosphere of the home crowd showed that the fans are backing the new era and new style put in place by head coach Wilfried Nancy
It’s Lucas’ world, we’re just living in it
All over the pitch since hi arrival back in 2020, Zelarayan shows why he’s one of the League’s best No. 10’s. It was on display tonight, as he notched a brace in the Crew’s 2-0 win against their MLS original counterparts.
The Crew is on the road next week to take on Toronto FC. Kickoff is set for 7:30 from BMO Field. You can catch the match on Apple TV.