Lucas Zelarayan led the Columbus Crew to a crucial home win over Orlando City SC on Wednesday night at Lower.com Field, scoring a long-range blast and providing two assists in the Crew's 3-2 win that kept alive their hopes of an Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs spot.
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Columbus' win over Orlando didn't propel them into a playoff position, but it did keep them within three points of both D.C. United and Atlanta United, who respectively sit sixth and seventh in the Eastern Conference standings.
Orlando held firm defensively early, but they failed to clear an initial corner kick out of their defensive third, providing Zelarayan with a second opportunity to whip the ball in and find Miguel Berry for the Spaniard's seventh goal of the season for a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute.
Prior to Wednesday's match, Berry ranked fourth in Major League Soccer in goals per 90 minutes among players with a minimum of 250 minutes player. Including Wednesday's match, Berry has played 633 minutes this year for the Crew, tallying seven goals for a goals per 90 minutes ratio of .95.
Zelarayan unlocked Orlando's defense once again from a corner kick, this time finding Derrick Etienne Jr. at the back post directly from the set-piece for a 31st-minute goal and 2-0 lead.
Orlando seemed to get themselves back into the game when Video Review called a handball on Jonathan Mensah after Benji Michel's shot deflected off his arm. Eloy Room saved Daryl Dike's ensuing penalty kick, but the assistant referee flagged an infraction on Room who stepped off his line too early. Room got his hands to the second penalty kick as Dike went in the same direction, but he couldn't prevent the powerful effort in the 52nd minute.
This sudden resurgence from Orlando would last just nine minutes, though, as Zelarayan struck a thunderous long-range effort past Pedro Gallese in the 61st-minute. It was his seventh goal from outside of the box and ninth overall this season, putting the Crew back in front by two and setting the tone for what would be a controlled final 30-minute performance as the team looked to preserve their three home points.
Robin Jansson gave Orlando hope in added time with a goal from a Tesho Akindele ball into the box, but the Crew saw out the nine minutes of added time to secure a much-needed win at home.
Up next, the Crew heads to D.C. United on Saturday, October 30 before returning home on Sunday, November 7 to host Chicago Fire FC in the regular-season finale. | TICKETS AVAILABLE