Sunday's match at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio started off with a bang, but not one you would expect.
Less than three minutes after the initial whistle kicked off the game, New York City FC center back Maxime Chanot was shown a red card for clipping the heel of Columbus Crew SC's newest attacking midfielder, Lucas Zelarayan. Head referee Ramy Touchan deemed it a denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and NYCFC saw themselves down to 10 men for the next 87 minutes. That helped the Crew eventually earn a 1-0 win over the Cityzens in an MLS opener for both teams.
It was the third-fastest red card from the start of an MLS game and the earliest red we've seen in a season opener.
NYCFC adjusted to a 4-4-1 and fought off attack after attack from Columbus until the second half, when Zelarayan blasted a left-footed shot into the far upper 90 of the goal to put his side up 1-0 in the 56th minute. The Crew acquired the Argentinian attacking midfielder from Tigres UANL for a reported $7 million this offseason—the largest transfer fee in club history.
Despite NYCFC's best effort, they weren't able to overcome the player deficit and the 1-0 scoreline stood after 90 minutes.
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- 56' - CLB - Lucas Zelarayan | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: After advancing to the quarterfinals of Concacaf Champions League on Wednesday, NYCFC is surely looking to get a strong start in MLS, but going down to 10 men in this game and losing Chanot next week against Toronto FC is not going to help. For Columbus, their big signing is already paying off and they can't complain about kicking off the season with a win against last year's best Eastern Conference side.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Chanot's red card in the third minute changed the strategy for both sides and gave the Crew a clear advantage.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Expectations were high for Zelarayan, coming to Columbus after scoring 23 goals and adding 14 assists in his four seasons with Tigres. While the 27-year-old didn't have the most shots for his side this afternoon, he had the one that counted and gave Columbus all three points.