On Wednesday afternoon, Jacen Russell-Rowe became for the first player from Columbus Crew 2 to sign a contract with the First Team. By Wednesday night, he made his first MLS start and became only the fifth player in league history to produce two assists in the first half of his first career start.
To put it simply: Russell-Rowe had a very good day.
And add to the fact that his two assists led to a 2-1 Columbus Crew win over Toronto FC in his hometown, and suddenly Wednesday became even more of a dream come true for the 22-year-old forward.
“I thought he was extremely dangerous,” head coach Caleb Porter said of Russell-Rowe after the game. “Early in the match, you saw from the opening whistle, he stretched and was quick enough to get in behind them and cause problems.”
The Crew’s opening goal came in the 18th minute when right back Steven Moreira played a ball into the box toward Russell-Rowe. The Canadian forward then controlled the ball, realized his shooting angles were closing and laid it off toward fellow rookie Sean Zawadzki. The latter then unleashed a left-footed strike that sped past Toronto goalkeeper Alex Bono, giving Zawadzki his first MLS goal.
The visitors doubled their lead at the half-hour mark when Lucas Zelarayán, who was back after missing three games with an injury, began a two-on-three sequence with Russell-Rowe. Thirty yards from goal, Zelarayán played the ball wide to Russell-Rowe, who then sliced the ball back inside through the Toronto backline, and Darlington Nagbe, who caught up to the play, was there to score his third goal of the season.
The Crew did concede a goal in the second half, but its backline proved difficult for Toronto to break down. With the result, the Black & Gold won their second road game of the year, and Porter was pleased with the team’s performance.
“There’s a lot to be pleased about,” he said. “From a purely results standpoint, it’s our second win on the road, and I think it’s our seventh result out of nine games on the road. Winning that game … those are big points. And winning the Trillium Cup for our supporters, we talked about that in the locker room before the game. It’s a little thing, but it’s a big thing, and we’re happy to sweep it and to win two games (against Toronto).”
The win was Columbus’ second against Toronto FC this season, and for the first time since 2018, the Crew won the Trillium Cup – the rivalry between the two sides. Through two games, the Crew won, 4-2, on aggregate.
With the result, the Black & Gold have 21 points through 16 games and sit tenth in the Eastern Conference standings.
Up next is a home date with the Philadelphia Union on Sunday at Lower.com Field. The match marks the one-year anniversary from when the Crew first played in its second soccer-specific stadium, and the Union enter the weekend second in the conference with 29 points from 17 games played.
Fireworks Night | Columbus Crew vs. Philadelphia Union
Celebrate Fourth of July Weekend with the Crew and enjoy a fireworks show after the match!