Columbus Crew stun Seattle Sounders to win MLS Cup in blowout

MLS Cup
Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Major League Soccer crowned a champion on Saturday, and Columbus Crew’s second MLS Cup final triumph feels as unlikely as most.

That’s neither because the Crew didn’t have a great season nor because their 3-0 triumph over Seattle in Columbus was undeserved, rather on account of a fitting end to a COVID-19-interrupted season.

The Crew were without two of their most important pieces, Darlington Nagbe and Pedro Santos, due to positive coronavirus tests but managed to beat one a dynasty looking for a third title in five years.

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Nagbe and Santos played 3300 minutes combined this season, including every minute of the MLS Cup Playoffs run.

Caleb Porter engineered the three-goal win with 19-year-old Aidan Morris in place of Nagbe and Liga MX import Lucas Zelarayan bagged a brace and set up Derrick Etienne Jr. for a goal.

Morris recorded the second assist on Zelarayan’s first goal, having not played in the MLS Cup Playoffs and boasting 360 minutes on the season.

Columbus last won the MLS Cup in 2008 and took the lead after 25 minutes en route to a 2-0 halftime advantage. Zelarayan put the game to bed in the 82nd minute.

Seattle had 65 percent of the ball but chances were pretty even, shot attempts 15-13 for Columbus including a 5-2 advantage in shots on target.

The Crew were nearly ripped from Columbus by then-owner Anthony Precourt, with MLS eventually agreeing to give Precourt a team in Austin as new owners arrived to keep the heralded MLS outfit in Ohio.

This is an incredible achievement for Porter, who won the MLS Cup with Portland in 2015 and an NCAA Championship with Akron five years earlier.

It’s also impressive for the in-season rebound, as Columbus lost just once in regulation through 13 MLS games but slumped down the stretch to the tune of 3W-5L-2T from Sept. 27 to Nov. 8.

The Sounders are denied a repeat as MLS Cup champions, though Brian Schmetzer’s men have now gone to a remarkable four finals in five seasons.

Follow @NicholasMendola