This time two years in the past, the Columbus Crew’s future in Ohio’s capital nonetheless wasn’t assured. On Saturday, one in all Main League Soccer’s authentic golf equipment stands alone because the twenty fifth MLS Cup champion.
The Crew shocked the defending champion Seattle Sounders 3-0 Saturday at house, getting two objectives from match MVP Lucas Zelarayán and one other from Derrick Etienne Jr. in what ended up being a rout. However the one-sided rating line was a minimum of Caleb Porter’s crew deserved.
With two league titles and one other look within the closing since 2016, the Sounders entered the competition at Mapfre Stadium because the prohibitive favourite after coming again to beat Minnesota United within the Western Convention semifinal. However even with out injured maestro Darlington Nagbe, Columbus got here out because the clear aggressor within the silver anniversary championship match within the historical past of the USA’ and Canada’s high league.
Zelarayán, a artful playmaker who was recruited by Porter from Mexican facet Tigres earlier than the 2020 season, opened the scoring within the twenty fifth minute, the 28-year-old Argentine volleying a superb cross-field move from proper again Harrison Afful:
Simply six minutes later, Etienne doubled the hosts’ benefit and put the Sounders in what turned out to be insurmountable gap. As soon as once more Afful began the sequence with a harmful service from the flank. And as soon as once more the ball fell to Zelarayán. This time, the the 28-year-old faked the shot and fed Etienne, who cooly fired house previous Seattle backstop Stefan Frei:
Zelarayán put the match away in spectacular trend with 9 minutes of normal time remaining by choosing the highest nook in opposition to Frei:
The upset win gave Columbus its second MLS Cup title and first since 2008. It additionally stopped Seattle’s bid for a 3rd MLS Cup in 5 years. The Sounders beat Toronto FC within the league closing final 12 months and in 2016, and have been runner-up to the Reds in 2017.
Columbus additionally reached the MLS Cup closing in 2015, narrowly shedding to Porter’s Portland Timbers, Seattle’s major rival. However two years later earlier proprietor Anthony Precourt confirmed reviews that he supposed to maneuver the crew to Austin, Texas. Following a fan-driven “Save the Crew” effort to maintain the membership from skipping city, a bunch led by Cleveland Browns Browns proprietor Jimmy Haslam stepped in to purchase the Crew from Precourt, who was awarded an growth crew that may enter MLS subsequent season.
Porter, who beforehand led the close by College of Akron to a nationwide title, was employed in 2018 after Gregg Berhalter left the Crew to take over the U.S. males’s nationwide crew. After lacking the playoffs in his maiden season, Porter and crew president Tim Bezbatchenko, an Ohio native who was the architect of Toronto’s MLS Cup winner, retooled the roster final winter. Zelarayán was the centerpiece and the newest in an extended line of Argentine attacking midfielders in Columbus. Guillermo Barros Schelotto, just lately fired as coach of the LA Galaxy, led the Crew to the 2008 title, successful each common season and playoff MVP and notching three assists within the closing.
Zelarayán changed countryman Federico Higuaín because the crew’s entrance man for 2020 — a call that paid off handsomely on Saturday when he delivered the membership one other MLS crown.
Columbus occupies a particular place within the trendy historical past of American soccer. Mapfre grew to become the nation’s first soccer particular stadium when it opened in 1999 — in 2020, 18 of MLS’s 26 groups performed in a single — and the USMNT routinely beat rival Mexico in World Cup qualifiers there. The Crew will open a brand new $300 million venue in downtown Columbus subsequent 12 months.
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