By Okon Ekpenyong
The Columbus Crew franchise is enjoying the success of its minor league team, Columbus Crew 2 first season, which became a member of the MLS Next Pro in December of 2021.
The MLS Next pro announced that on June 21, 2021, it was launching a new professional league, a minor league under MLS that would begin playing in 2022. It comprises 20 teams that are a part of Major League Soccer clubs and one independent club, Rochester New York FC. Columbus Crew 2 plays its home games at the Historic Crew Stadium, but Sunday’s game was the team match at Lower.com Field.
In its first season, Crew 2 is first in the Eastern Conference standings with 41 points through 18 games after defeating New York FC II 3-0 at lower.com field on Sunday. Overall, the team is two points behind MLS Next Pro leader Tacoma Defiance, which has 43 points in 19 games.
The team was coming off a 2-1 loss against Philadelphia Union II on July 31 on the road. So, this was a must-win for a young club with players who could step up to make big plans on any given night. They started scoring within the game’s first five minutes and never looked back.
Having scored twice in this game, Russell-Rowe leads the team in scoring with his 14th of the season. His first goal came in the game’s second minute when he shot very close to the net to help get things started earlier, and Mohamed Farsi provided the assist. The midfielder, Sean Zawadzki, scored the team’s 2nd goal in the 12th minute of the game when he shot from the box to the center of the “goal” with his right foot.
Going into the 72 minutes, Crew 2 was still controlling the temper of the game by playing defense and denying NYC any opportunity to score. Russell-Rowe helped put the game away at the 74-minute mark with his day’s second goal.
Despite falling 3-0 to the Crew 2, NYC is still the second-best team in the Eastern Conference. They lead the Eastern Conference in goals and shots, but with only six games remaining in the regular season, they cannot afford to play the way they did against Crew 2. NYC had a better time of possession than CLB; however, not being able to drive to the net and taking advantage of the Crew fouls to potentially create some scoring opportunities was one of many reasons they did not prevail in this match.
Head Coach, Laurent Courtois, stated that the team’s ability to rally in the backcourt playing man to man helped prevent scoring drives on target and off-target for the NYC. “It was important to find our opponent’s strengths and weaknesses on the backcourt and frontcourt and capitalize on them to our advantage.”
Head Coach Laurent Courtois and midfielder Sean Zawadzki praised newly signed defender Tristan Webber’s all-around game after making his MLS Pro Next debut. They look forward to seeing what else he can accomplish on the field.
“We did not want to play NYC how we did the first time. So, we wanted to start from the back, make some midfield adjustments, and control the game’s temper in the front.” Communicating and making better movements off each other made the game a little easier to get on the ball,” Sean Zawadzki said.
These players are also looking to impress MLS Pro scouts each time they step on the field in hopes of playing at the Pro level.
The team will play its next two games on the road, on August 14 against Cincinnati FC II and on August 20 against Orlando FC.
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