The Columbus Crew’s Lucas Zelarayán was named the Week 2 MLS Player of the Matchday and was selected to the MLS Team of Matchday on Monday. This all came from the Argentine attacking midfielder’s play on Saturday when he slotted home a first half brace in the Black & Gold’s 2-0 victory against D.C. United Saturday night at Lower.com Field
Zelarayán’s first goal came 10 minutes into the first half. Colombian Desginated Player forward Cucho Hernandez drew the D.C. backline out wide, stretching the opposing defense just enough for Zelarayán to find space near the center of the penalty box. Hernandez delivered a perfect pass that Zelarayán corralled and spun off the United defender before sending a low far post shot past the D.C. goalkeeper.
The second goal was even more of a group effort. After winning the ball back, midfielder Alexandru Matan dribbled into the attacking third. A wide run by wing back Mohaed Farsi drew the opposition’s attention away from Zelarayán who had made his way into the 18-yard box. Matan played a through ball and Zelarayán timed his run perfectly to immediately send a shot into the roof of the net.
Try to understand. He's a Magic Maaaaaaaan#Crew96 | 2-0 pic.twitter.com/NGHE1Balgg— The Crew (@ColumbusCrew) March 5, 2023
Entering his fourth season in Columbus, Zelarayán has tallied 30 goals and 23 assists as a member of the Crew. He is only the eighth player in Black & Gold history to reach the 30-goal/20-assist milestone in their time in Columbus.
If the Crew take to first-year head coach Wilfried Nancy’s new style of play quickly, this could just be the beginning of awards for Zelarayán and his attack-minded teammates. Nancy’s new 3-4-2-1 formation has allowed Zelarayán to play farther up the pitch and intertwine his runs and services with Hernandez and Matan. Over past seasons, Zelarayán has tended to drop back, retrieve the ball around midfield and lead the attack with his dribbling.
By playing closer to Hernandez and not having to lead the transition so often, Zelarayán could find himself closer to the opponent's goal more often and consistently on the score sheet.
While scoring goals is always the ultimate intention, the Armenian international was deliberate in spelling out his objective of actually facilitating goals for the star striker in Hernandez. Zelarayán says he wants Hernandez to win the Golden Boot and if that happens, the Crew would be nearly unstoppable.
Saturday night’s Crewsmas festivities were just a glimpse into what both superstar attackers are capable of in this new era of Black & Gold soccer.
These honors are the first individual awards for any Columbus player. Next week, the Crew is back on the road, taking on Eastern Conference rivals Toronto FC.