Behind a performance inspired by the club’s record-signing Lucas Zelarayan, the crew beat the Seattle Sounders 3-0 on Saturday night at home, denying the Sounders a championship repeat and returning to the top of MLS for the first time since. 2008. The Crew, which went under new ownership in 2018 after a fan-led move to keep the club in Ohio, overcame incredible adversity to lift the Philip F. Anschutz trophy.
Zelarayan put an exclamation mark on his MLS Cup MVP presented by Audi performance, freezing the game in the 82nd minute taking it to 3-0. The Argentina playmaker collected a pass from Luis Diaz at the top of the penalty area, then returned his left-footed shot to the top corner to cap off a clutch performance from the midfielder.
The crew were without winger Pedro Santos and midfielder Darlington Nagbe due to positive COVID-19 cases, although their absences were barely noticeable – especially during a dominant first half. And Columbus found his reward in the 25th minute when Zelarayan went 1-0 for the hosts, leaning over the back post and wanting a left-footed shot past Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei, making the most of a deep cross. and precocious from the right rear. Harrison Afful.
The crew doubled their lead six minutes later, with Derrick Etienne Jr. completing a delicate shot in the far corner. The Haitian international winger got the 2-0 advantage in the 31st minute, timing a right-footed shot with finesse after Zelarayan faked his shot and selected the incisive pass.
Seattle made four substitutes between half-time and the 60th minute, including the two outside fulls, looking to recapture the magic of their comeback victory over Minnesota United FC in the Western Conference final.
These efforts failed, however, as Nicolas Lodeiro nearly cushioned Jordan Morris’s layoff in the 71st minute. Cristian Roldan also came close in the 51st minute when his corner kick header missed the top corner, and Morris hit the crossbar with a header in the 80th minute. Still, they couldn’t get past Eloy Room, who finished with two saves on his return to the lineup.
Columbus could have conceded a third goal in the first half, but Frei reacted well to prevent a powerful shot from Gyasi Zardes in the 17th minute. The crew’s center forward collected a deadweight header from Josh Williams on a corner kick, but his left-footed effort was denied at the gate.
- 25 ‘- CLB – Lucas Zelarayan | WATCH
- 31 ‘- CLB – Derrick Etienne Jr. | WATCH
- 82 ‘- CLB – Lucas Zelarayan | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: The crew are moving to a new dedicated football stadium next year, and there’s no better way to welcome this era than this MLS original closing 2020 with a title. They also missed the playoffs in 2019, but competed in the Supporters’ Shield race for much of that year until injuries took their toll. Add in cases of COVID-19 during the playoffs, and a lot was going on against Caleb Porter’s team. But they bonded, got the result convincingly, and prevented Seattle from winning its third MLS Cup in five years. The Sounders had the ‘been there, done that’ card, but that didn’t matter in the end.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Lucas Zelarayan was just great for the crew, providing two goals and one assist. He finished the 2020 Audi MLS Cup playoffs with two goals and five assists in four games, proving why the crew made former Tigers UANL midfielder a Designated Player.
- TIME OF THE MATCH: Derrick Etienne Jr.’s 2-0 goal in the 31st minute was absolutely clinical and sent a clear statement to everyone. The crew were all over Seattle during the first half, and this insurance strike formalized the flow of the game.