Monday’s soccer news starts with the end of the 2020 MLS season and a second championship for the Columbus Crew with a 3-0 shutout of Seattle. Lucas Zelerayan put the Crew up in the 25th minute with Derrick Etienne doubling the lead in the 31st. Zelerayan scored again in the 82nd minute. Columbus takes the title as the 3rd-seed in the Eastern Conference, finishing 4th overall in the regular season.
What Columbus winning means for the league as a whole is an interesting question. Given how 2020 eventually played out, it’s tough to know what any team learned to carry forward. The coaching changes during the season showed how seriously some clubs treated results. It’s as likely that some teams are waiting to see what 2021 looks like before making similar changes.
Columbus was two starters down due to positive coronavirus tests and had to plug-in the youngest player in MLS Cup history. That’s not a plan, even when it turns into a championship. Relying on Lucas Zelerayan certainly was, pushing forward what worked so well during the regular season and into the playoffs. Zelerayan turning into the focus of the win at MLS Cup almost makes sense.
“I believe a championship is won in the day-to-day process,” Columbus coach Caleb Porter said. “How you play, the mentality that you have. You know, our guys became winners this year. I said that after the last game. A lot of good players, a lot of good teams, but not all those players are winners, champions, and not all those teams are championship-caliber teams. You need to have a special fiber, and you need to fight and work and have a strong mentality, winning mentality, every single day.”
Also in the soccer news, UEFA held the draw for the knockout rounds of the Champions League and the Europa League. In a standout season already for USMNT players in Europe, Tyler Adam’s RB Leipzig will play Liverpool and Sergino Dest and Konrad de la Fuente’s Barcelona plays PSG on February 16. Weston McKennie’s Juventus is at Porto and Gio Reyna’s Borussia Dortmund is at Sevilla on February 17. On February 23, Chris Richard’s Bayern Munich is at Lazio and Christian Pulisic’s Chelsea is at Atletico Madrid. The first-legs conclude on February 24 with Zack Steffen’s Manchester City at Gladbach.
In the Europa League round of 32, Ethan Horvath’s Club Brugge is at Dynamo Kyiv, Timothy Weah’s Lille hosts Ajax, and Richy Ledezma won’t be available due to injury for PSV at Olympiacos. The Jesse Marsch-coached Red Bull Salzburg hosts Villarreal with all of those opening legs on February 18.
The LA Times’ Kevin Baxter asks the biggest picture question about the 2020 MLS season. The Miami Herald’s Michelle Kaufman looks at the changes already happening at Inter Miami. BBC Sport asks what happens to Borussia Dortmund’s squad with a change in coach. Inside World Football’s Andrew Warshaw on the new CEO of the Football League. The Telegraph’s obituary for Gerard Houllier.
— x – Columbus Crew SC (@ColumbusCrewSC) December 13, 2020
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