Lucas Zelarayan knocked home yet another goal on a free kick — his fourth-such goal of the season — to lift the Columbus Crew to a lively 2-1 victory over New York City FC on Saturday evening, their first win at Lower.com Field.
HIGHLIGHTS: Columbus Crew vs. New York City FC | July 17, 2021
Zelarayan's latest moment of magic came in the 62nd minute, reminiscent of his two late free-kick goals against NYC on May 22 that turned a 1-0 deficit and sealed three points for his side.
NYCFC controlled much of the play in the first half, nearly finding themselves in front in the fourth minute courtesy of Valentin Castellanos before the Argentinian forward was denied by a big save by Eloy Room. A few minutes later, they appeared to have won a penalty as a shot from Gudmundur Thórarinsson was ruled to have deflected off the arm of Saad Abdul-Salaam inside the scoring area. Video Review, however, saw the penalty reversed to a free-kick as Abdul-Salaam was ruled to have been outside the penalty area, and Thórarinsson's subsequent attempt on the set-piece ultimately went straight into the Columbus wall.
The Crew saw an early chance of their own go begging in the 15th minute. Darlington Nagbe connected with Abdul-Salaam on a nice buildup, but Miguel Berry's resulting shot from Abdul-Salaam's pass was robbed by Luis Barraza.
But, in stoppage time, Columbus broke the deadlock as Nagbe capped a pretty run with a chipped finish past Barraza to give Columbus the lead right before the break.
However, NYCFC leveled the match early in the second half. A giveaway in the box found Jesus Medina, whose left-footed strike beat Room to make it a 1-1 contest. They came dangerously close to taking the lead in the 55th but Room was forced to make back-to-back saves in a move that was ultimately called offside.
In the 62nd minute, Columbus took the lead on Zelarayan's fourth free-kick goal of the season to thrill a loud and vibrant Lower.com Field crowd. That tied David Beckham's mark set in 2012 and put Zelarayan two shy of tying Sebastian Giovinco's single-season record.
And despite NYCFC pushing for the equalizer to send the Crew to a fourth straight draw, Room and the Columbus defense stood firm the rest of the way to seal the victory and end a four-match winless streak.
- THE BIG PICTURE: No draw tonight for the Crew. After Columbus ended up sharing the points in three consecutive matches, they secured an important three points to put themselves back in playoff position in the Eastern Conference. They sent NYC to a second straight loss, their first two-game losing streak of the season, as once again they were foiled by the brilliance of Zelarayan.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: There's no doubt what the moment of the match was on this night. And it's become a familiar occurrence as the reigning MLS Cup MVP continues to establish himself as one of the league's best free-kick specialists.
GOAL: Lucas Zelarayán, Columbus Crew - 62nd minute
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Immense credit belongs to Eloy Room. The lone NYC goal couldn't be traced to him, but his six saves on the night were the catalyst behind the Crew's first victory since June 19.
- CLB: Wednesday, July 21 vs. Nashville SC | 7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+
- NYC: Wednesday, July 21 vs. CF Montréal | 7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+, TVA Sports