Columbus Crew 2 won the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro Cup over St Louis CITY2 on Saturday afternoon, cruising to a commanding 4-1 victory at Lower.com Field.
Crew 2 took a 2-0 lead just before halftime, with midfielder Isaiah Parente dispatching a penalty kick and captain Marco Micaletto sneaking a near-post cross past CITY2 goalkeeper Michael Creek.
The hosts pushed their advantage to 3-0 when MLS NEXT Pro MVP and Golden Boot winner Jacen Russell-Rowe slotted home another PK in the 58th minute, marking his 25th goal in all competitions for Crew 2.
St Louis planted a seed of doubt with a goal from Celio Pompeu in the 80th minute, but Columbus forward Ryan Telfer extinguished any comeback hopes when firing his shot home to put a bow on a 4-1 championship win.
- THE BIG PICTURE: It's the first year of MLS NEXT Pro and Columbus Crew 2 will forever be the inaugural champions. The Eastern Conference winners were commanding from start to finish, capping it with hardware before a home crowd. As for St Louis, the club's first team enters MLS in 2023 as the top flight's 29th team. The roots of a long journey are planted, even if the Capybaras bested the Western Conference winners.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Raise that silverware, and raise it high. What a moment for Crew 2 and Lauren Courtois, the MLS NEXT Pro Coach of the Year.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Columbus, with four Best XI selections this year, have strong players all over the pitch. Though captain Marco Micaletto is the MLS NEXT Pro Cup MVP, proving brilliant throughout against St Louis.