Fri, 22 Sep 2023

Crew, Charlotte FC meet after busy May

Field Level Media
03 Jun 2023, 08:19 GMT+10

Lucas Zelarayan will look to continue his surge for the Columbus Crew when they host Charlotte FC on Saturday.

Zelarayan helped the Crew (6-6-3, 21 points) to a 3-2 victory against the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday for their second win in the past eight games (2-4-2).

Zelarayan scored and had two assists against the Rapids to give him three goals and two assists in the past four games. It's more impressive considering he played just the second half -- and scored -- in the first game of the stretch against the Los Angeles Galaxy.

He is tied for seventh in MLS goals (seven) and tied for 10th in assists (five) in 13 games.

Crew coach Wilfried Nancy after the Colorado game praised the leadership of veterans such as Zelarayan and Steven Moreira -- a right back forced to play center back because of injuries.

"This is really important that they step up, and they help the young players to be better, and to put the pressure on them," Nancy said. "I'm real happy about that because this is a move forward."

Saturday will mark the Crew's eighth game (six MLS, two U.S. Open Cup) since May 10, likely leading to Nancy rotating his lineup.

Meanwhile, Charlotte (6-7-3, 21 points) is coming off a 1-0 loss at Philadelphia on Wednesday.

Charlotte faces a similar dilemma to Columbus, having played eight games in all competitions during a 26-day span in May.

That may affect whether midfielder Justin Meram starts against his former team. He had 38 goals and 32 assists in 188 games for the Crew from 2011-18, including 13 goals in his final full season in 2017.

He was traded to Charlotte from Real Salt Lake on April 28 and has two goals and three assists in seven games (six starts) for his new club after having one assist in six games (two starts) for RSL.

"He didn't start very many games for Salt Lake this season and he comes here and virtually starts every game," Charlotte coach Christian Lattanzio said. "He has been very good. He's always giving us something. He loves the sport. We love the experience that he brings."

--Field Level Media

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