No Darlington Nagbe or Pedro Santos, no problem.
First half goals from Lucas Zelarayan and former New York Red Bulls homegrown Derrick Etienne Jr. in a six-minute span staked the Crew to a first half lead and Zelarayan made it 3-0 to ice the game in the 80th minute with a goal worthy of an MLS Cup champion.
Zelarayan was involved in all three goals and more than covered for the absences of Darlington Nagbe and Pedro Santos, who both had to miss the game after testing positive for Covid-19.
Crew head coach Caleb Porter won his second MLS Cup after beating the Crew at MAPFRE with the Portland Timbers in 2015. The Crew’s first MLS Cup came in 2008.
Columbus finished in third place in the Eastern Conference during the regular season, six points behind the Philadelphia Union but were one of only two teams to beat the Union in 2020 after they lost to the Timbers in the MLS is Back Tournament semifinal in Florida in early August.
The Crew beat the Union in their two meetings during the regular season — both at home — in what was their last full season as the league’s first soccer specific stadium. The Crew plan to open a new stadium in Columbus in July.
The championship for the Crew comes a year after they finished 20th in the league and two years after the team was saved from a former owner who unsuccessfully attempted to move the original MLS team to Austin. Austin FC will enter the league as an expansion team in 2021.