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MLS is Back: Crew clinch knockout-round berth with win over Red Bulls

If the blowout win over FC Cincinnati wasn’t enough to establish the Columbus Crew’s status as legitimate contenders at the MLS is Back Tournament, then their latest triumph should convince a few more doubters.

Goals from Lucas Zelarayan and Gyasi Zardes helped lead the Crew to a comfortable 2-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls in Group E action on Thursday night.

The Crew attack ran the Red Bulls defense ragged, creating a plethora of chances while the Crew defense held the Red Bulls attack without a single shot through 90 minutes of regulation and 11 minutes of stoppage time.

The Crew opened the scoring in the 22nd minute when Pedro Santos found Gyasi Zardes charging with plenty of space and, the striker made it look easy with a left-footed putt past Red Bulls’ keeper David Jensen. The goal marked Zardes’ third of the tournament and fourth of the season.

Minutes later, Zardes was an inch away from marking himself in the assist column after fighting through traffic to draw Jensen off his line and handing Derrick Etienne Jr. a golden opportunity, but the opportunity was wasted when he missed on the near post side.

The Crew doubled the lead 90 seconds into the second half when Etienne found a wide-open Lucas Zelarayán outside the box for a low, driven shot in the bottom left corner from distance. Zelarayán, the Crew’s record signing from Liga MX side Tigres, continues to impress, notching his third goal in four games in 2020.

For the Red Bulls, a win or draw in Wednesday’s match against FC Cincinnati could still see a path to advancing in the tournament. Both have a win in hand, making it a win or go home match.

The Crew finish out group play against winless Atlanta United, with Atlanta needing a win to have a chance of reaching the knockout rounds.

Man of the Match

Gyasi Zardes: Continuing his hot streak, Zardes has scored in three consecutive games and did the work to register his first assist of the season but was unlucky not to.

Moment of the Match

Lucas Zelarayán’s 47th-minute goal: The entire first half was one-sided and the Argentine’s strike shut the door on any thoughts the Red Bulls had about entering the conversation for a point. Credit to Derrick Etienne Jr. for his work on the goal against his former team.

Match to Forget

Aaron Long / Amro Tarek: Both of the Crew goals were created centrally at the top of the box, where the Red Bulls central defenders should have been. They were lucky to be punished only twice in the evening.


  1. Zelarayan is one of 14 Argentine DPs in MLS and only Christian Pavon have more than five Argentine NT caps. Of course some like Barco are young and will likely gain caps but it gives an idea of the depth of elite countries.


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