COLUMBUS – Columbus Crew today announced it has signed midfielder Lucas Zelarayan to a new three-year contract, through the 2024 Major League Soccer season with an option for 2025. The 29-year-old midfielder initially joined the Black & Gold prior to the 2020 MLS season where he had a breakout, MLS Newcomer of the Year campaign. Named the 2020 MLS Cup MVP during the Club’s title-winning season, Zelarayan is a two-time Crew MVP Award recipient (2020, 2021) who has made 53 appearances (48 starts) across all competitions while registering 21 goals and 19 assists. Zelarayan will continue to occupy a Designated Player slot and an international slot.
"Over the past two seasons Lucas has proven himself to be one of the top game-changers in MLS and we are excited to sign him to a new contract," said Columbus Crew President & General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. "We signed Lucas in December of 2019 because we know the importance of having difference-makers in MLS in order to contend for championships. He chose Columbus because he wanted to win trophies, which is exactly what he has done - helping us win MLS Cup last year and Campeones Cup this year. Lucas has proven that he can perform under pressure, and he shines time and time again when the spotlight is brightest. We look forward to seeing what else Lucas and the team can achieve together in 2022 and beyond."
Zelarayan was acquired from Liga MX side Tigres UANL on December 20, 2019, as a Designated Player for a Club-record acquisition transfer fee. He made 20 appearances (16 starts) during the 2020 season, scoring six goals and tallying four assists. Zelarayan was later named the Crew’s Most Valuable Player following the regular season. Zelarayan scored twice and provided five assists during the Club’s run in the 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. The Armenian international was pivotal in the 3-0 win over Seattle Sounders FC as of the Crew captured the MLS Cup (December 12), scoring two goals and providing one assist en route to securing MLS Cup MVP honors.
During the 2021 MLS regular season, Zelarayan made 32 appearances (28 starts) and registered 12 goals (three game-winning) and seven assists (one game-winning), leading the Black & Gold in both categories. He was twice voted MLSsoccer.com’s Player of the Week (Weeks 6 and 34). Notably, the midfielder’s five free-kick goals during the 2021 regular season tied Sebastian Giovinco’s 2015 tally for second-most free-kick goals in a single regular season since Opta began tracking this statistic. Additionally, Zelarayan started the MLS All-Star Game and participated in the MLS All-Star Skills Challenge, finishing first in two event categories. In the 2021 Campeones Cup, Zelarayan was named the GEICO Man of the Match for his performance versus Liga MX side Cruz Azul.
At the international level, Zelarayan has earned four caps for the Armenia National Team, making his debut in 2021 against Iceland (October 28) in a UEFA group-stage match for FIFA World Cup qualification. The midfielder most recently featured for Armenia in a World Cup Qualifier against Germany last month (November 14).
The Black & Gold are set to open the 2022 MLS season by hosting Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Lower.com Field on Saturday, February 26 at 3:30 p.m. ET. The Crew is now accepting Nine-Match Ticket Plan deposits. For as little as $100, fans will have limited game selection flexibility, access to pre-sales and more. Supporters interested in securing Season Ticket Memberships or placing deposits for Nine-Match Plans for the 2022 MLS season can call 614-447-2739, columbuscrew.com/tickets/memberships or email email@example.com to get connected with a Season Ticket Member representative.
TRANSACTION: Columbus Crew signs midfielder Lucas Zelarayan to a new three-year contract through the 2024 Major League Soccer season with an option for 2025 on December 2, 2021. Zelarayan will continue to occupy a Designated Player slot and an international slot.
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