By Preston Wood
On Sunday, Columbus Crew 2 hosted Toronto FC II at Historic Crew Stadium. The Black and Gold came back from being down 1-0 to win the contest 2-1, adding on to an impressive four-match winning streak. In addition to getting the three points, Crew 2 also had three of its players make their professional debuts as Jacob Erlandson, Justin Malou and Crew Academy product Zion Scarlett, all appeared as substitutes in the hard-fought victory.
Erlandson, a Dayton native who most recently played for Bowling Green State University, came into the match in the 64th minute, replacing Quinton Elliott. For Erlandson, who grew up coming to Crew matches, Sunday was a very special moment.
"I’ve been looking forward to it the last couple of months,” said Erlandson. “There is still a special place in my heart for Historic Crew Stadium. I grew up going there; walking out of the tunnel, and even just practicing – looking up at where I used to sit as a kid, definitely brings back feelings that you had as a kid, and that is why you want to play professional soccer.”
“It definitely meant a lot to me, and I know it meant a lot to my mom and dad as well, because they were the ones taking me to those games, so now they are sitting in the stands watching me play. It was a pretty cool experience overall,” added the defender.
Another player who was eagerly awaiting his debut is Malou, a 23-year-old defender, who entered the game in the 64th minute and logged 27 minutes in relief of Phillip Quinton. Malou was originally drafted by the Crew in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft but returned to Clemson to finish out the 2021 season. The Senegalese player signed a contract with Crew 2 on February 25 of this year.
“It has been a long journey seeing where I come from and being able to see this day is just a blessing,” said Malou following the conclusion of Sunday’s match against Toronto FC II. “I am thankful for the opportunity to be able to grow and get better each and every day with this team and most importantly get the win at home.”
For Scarlett, although Sunday marked his professional debut, it was not the first time the forward has represented Columbus Crew. The 17-year-old, who recently signed a season-long amateur agreement, is a Crew Academy product and his familiarity with the Black & Gold has paid dividends, with Crew 2 Head Coach Laurent Courtois noting Scarlett’s potential.
“He is a kid with a lot of potential. He has physical attributes that you cannot teach, but tactically, there are phases of his game that will be a work-in-progress,” said Courtois. “He is such a hard worker, that we think with timing, dedication, and patience, he is going to get there.”
All in all, it was a day to remember for the Black & Gold trio, as they took the first step in their professional careers.
Crew 2 returns to action on Sunday, May 8 when they travel to Gillette Stadium to face New England Revolution II. The match is slated to begin at 05:00 p.m. ET and will be available via free stream on MLSNextPro.com.