·1 August 2023
·1 August 2023
Columbus Crew made light work of Liga MX and CONCACAF giants Club America, winning 4-1 and securing a first place finish in Central Group one in the 2023 Leagues Cup.
Just a few days after knocking off MLS Western Conference leaders St Louis City 4-0, the Eagles were outmatched at Lower.com Field against the fiesty Crew. From first year head coach Wilfried Nancy's perspective, it must've been something along the lines of 'No Lucas Zelarayan, no problem.'
Just hours before the game, the Crew announced that one of the league's best players, Lucas Zelarayan, was leaving the club and being transferred to Saudi Pro League side Al Fateh. But, that apparently didn't faze Columbus, as they went on two score four unanswered goals after conceding midway through the first half.
"We stayed together. And for me, this is the most important because with a lot of humility I know that we are able to do good things, we're able to play," Nancy said after the game.
"But I really enjoyed seeing my team facing an adversity like this and still playing when we have the opportunity to do it. For me, this is the most important."
Nancy went on to explain that even though Zelarayan was an icon in Columbus, no player is bigger than the club: "First of all, this is Lucas. He wrote a story in the club. He created memories for the club. What he's done for the club, this is the most important. Now, the idea is to focus on the team. The team is the most important and I have a massive respect for Lucas, he knows that."
"But we have to move forward with that and I know that Columbus and all the fans will never forget Lucas. But now we have to look forward and the club has a vision and that's why I'm here also."
Coach added: "Like I told you, the team is more important than any players. And, again, don't get me wrong. I told you this is Lucas, but now we have to prepare a game and we have to play as a team."
"The values that we have is for my players to be good individually, but for the team. And they did it tonight. And they did it also when Lucas was there."
Juan 'Cucho' Hernandez led the way for Columbus, bagging a brace and dedicating one of his goals to Zelarayan.
Hernandez echoed the same sentiments that his head coach expressed, acknowledging that the Crew are losing a top player in Zelarayan but that the show must go on.
"Lucas is a legend of the club, he’s been a champion here and the best player this club has ever had," said Hernandez. "But this is a team that belongs to everyone. So, Lucas is leaving but me, Christian [Ramírez] and Darlington [Nagbe] have to take the reins of the team and continue."
Leagues Cup round of 32 on August 4.