Through the first three months of the season, it’s seemed customary for the Columbus Crew to start home matches with momentum. Generally, that’s meant an early goal, or at least a moment of attacking brilliance that shows the club was going to make the match a long evening for the visitors.
However, it was the Crew who picked the ball from its own net inside 10 minutes on Wednesday night at Lower.com Field. But rather than get flustered, the club kept going, unlocked the Colorado defense and produced a deserving 3-2 win against the Rapids for a midweek win.
“Usually, we start really well the game in terms of spirit and the mindset in terms of the front foot, in terms of what we want to do with the ball, and without the ball, but we made a mistake and we got punished,” head coach Wilfried Nancy said afterward. “But the fact that they stayed on the task, they were able to score a nice goal and this is good for the mind. And after that, they were able to settle a bit and we adjusted certain things during halftime in terms of tactical elements.
“The second half, with a lot of humility, I knew that we are going in the right direction. So, the second goal, I don't like it, because again, the way we conceded the second goal, we made a bad decision before the second goal. And this is something that we have to be better, recognizing certain situations. But again, three goals. And we are happy.”
After the Crew conceded in the ninth minute to a Sam Nicholson goal, Lucas Zelarayán equalized the match with a brilliant 37th-minute goal below The Nordecke. Malte Amundsen lofted the ball down the left flank to Yaw Yeboah, who played it back into the area. From there, Zelarayán smashed his first-time hit to the back post for his seventh goal this year.
At halftime, Sean Zawadzki replaced Philip Quinton, and throughout the second half, Nancy deployed a lineup containing no natural center backs.
Zawadzki then scored from a header in the 62nd minute when he was on the end of a Zelarayán corner kick. As the Armenia international played a long corner, Zawadzki got away from his man at the back post and nodded it home.
Cucho Hernández doubled the lead 10 minutes later to finish a nice Columbus buildup. As the ball was recycled in Colorado territory, Darlington Nagbe played a pass to Zelarayán, who slotted a ball toward Cucho. The Colombian then fired in his second goal of the campaign while Zelarayán had his second assist of the night.
Cole Bassett made it a 3-2 match in stoppage time with a brilliant curling effort to the back post, but it wasn’t enough to deny the Black & Gold three points and momentum ahead of another home match this coming Saturday against Charlotte FC.
Following the win Nancy said he was proud of the club’s veteran leaders stepping up and making a difference, not only in how they played as individuals, but also how they inspire younger teammates.
“We’re talking about Lucas obviously, he was involved in the three goals, he helped us to win this game. But also, Steven [Moreira] behind,” Nancy said. “He is a fullback and today it was a weird situation because we played with zero center backs, so again, for me all these players, this is really important that they step up, and they help the young players to be better, and to put the pressure on them. And I'm happy because we've been talking about it, and they did it today and I'm really happy about that because this is a move forward.”
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