The Columbus Crew got their first win of the Wilfried Nancy era and they have their biggest star to thank: Lucas Zelarayán, the Player of the Matchday presented by Continental Tire for Matchday 2 of the 2023 MLS season.
The 30-year-old Armenian international bagged a first-half brace to pave the way for Saturday's 2-0 victory over D.C. United at Lower.com Field. Playing as a shadow striker in Nancy’s 3-4-2-1 formation, Zelarayán connected with attacking partner Cucho Hernández in the 10th minute before hammering home a perfect through ball from Alexandru Matan just before halftime to put the match to bed.
This is the third Player of the Matchday presented by Continental Tire award for Zelarayán, who also won 2020 MLS Cup MVP honors for his brace in a 3-0 title-clinching win over the Seattle Sounders.
Now in his fourth season in Columbus, Zelarayán has 30 goals and 23 assists, becoming just the eighth player in club history to reach the 30g/20 assist milestone. Saturday's output also gave him five multi-goal games, which is the eighth-most in Crew history.
The MLS Player of the Matchday presented by Continental Tire is selected each matchday of the regular season through
both media and fan voting in a process conducted by MLS Communications. A panel of journalists from the North
American Soccer Reporters (NASR) comprises 75 percent of the vote, while a Twitter fan vote represents the remaining
25 percent of voting. NASR consists of members of print, television, radio, and online media.