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Columbus Crew keep playoff hopes alive

Columbus Crew SC forward Pedro Santos celebrates after scoring a goal in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Columbus Crew entered Saturday night with the slimmest of playoff chances. An impressive 3-1 road victory keeps them in the playoff discussion for at least another week. It was a night that reminded Black and Gold fans what The Crew is capable of when the team is firing on all cylinders. Let’s take a look back on Saturday night.

Columbus Crew keep playoff hopes alive with a rare road win

Down Early

Before Columbus and D.C. kicked off, the Columbus Crew’s playoff hopes took a slight hit. Of all the scenarios needing to go Columbus’s way, a draw in the New York Red Bull and Club de Foot Montreal match would have been the most ideal. Unfortunately for The Crew, New York scored a stoppage-time goal to win the game outright.

When the opening whistle blew in D.C. things did not improve. U.S. National Team stalwart Paul Ariola scored a goal in the 3rd minute to give United an early lead. 

D.C. has one of the best home records in MLS this year, and it appeared it would be business as usual for the black and red.

The Comeback Starts

It only takes one player making one play to change the course of a game. Just as the first half was coming to a close, Lucas Zelarayán tore into the United box and drew a foul. The number 10 took to the spot and with a little hesitation run, slotted the equalizer past Bill Hamid.

The second half started with both teams coming out on their front foot. Keepers Eloy Room and Bill Hamid did their part in keeping the score tied—both making superb saves in net.

With D.C. pressing to get a go-ahead goal, The Crew’s offense found space in transition. Darlington Nagbe played a beauty of an aerial pass to a streaking Pedro Santos. Andy Najar tried to cut Santos off early, but miss-timed his run, leaving Santos alone on Hamid. Number 7 took his time and gave a soft chip over the keeper to give Columbus the lead.

Another game, Another Rocket

If I may borrow the words from Crew radio broadcaster Chris Doren, “Why do we doubt that the magic is there?”  In the last two games, there has been no reason to doubt Zelarayán. 

In the 76-minute, Miguel Berry intercepted a United pass near the box. He played a soft pass for Zelarayán, who struck the ball with pace. The third goal of the game ripped past Hamid and surprisingly didn’t break through the back of the net.

This was the second “goal of the week” worthy strike from Zelarayán. If the Columbus Crew do miss the playoffs this year, the silver lining of the season will be the insane amount of highlight goals Zelarayán has delivered for The Crew, so far. 

Last Words

A wise man once said, “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

The 2021 Columbus Crew have fooled me too many times into thinking they have turned a corner. Do they deserve to make the playoffs? Absolutely not, but no one really deserves anything in this world and the MLS is a weird league.

Talk to me in a couple of weeks and I might try to convince you they are going to repeat as MLS Cup Champs.

A million things have to go right for the Crew to make it, but at the very least fans can hope to enter decision day alive. Who knows, perhaps the new stadium is ready to write its own history.

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