*Note: This editorial was edited by ColumbusCrewSC.com and provided by MLSsoccer.com
Sunday's match at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio started off with a bang, but not one you would expect.
Less than three minutes after the initial whistle kicked off the game, New York City FC (0-1-0, 0 pts.) center back Maxime Chanot was shown a red card for clipping the heel of Columbus Crew SC's (1-0-0, 3 pts.) newest attacking midfielder, Lucas Zelarayan. Head referee Ramy Touchan deemed it a denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and NYCFC saw themselves down to 10 men for the next 87 minutes. That helped the Crew eventually earn a 1-0 win over the Cityzens in an MLS opener for both teams.
It was the third-fastest red card from the start of an MLS game and the earliest red we've seen in a season opener.
NYCFC adjusted to a 4-4-1 and fought off attack after attack from Columbus until the second half, when Zelarayan blasted a left-footed shot into the far upper 90 of the goal to put his side up 1-0 in the 56th minute.
The Crew acquired the Argentinian attacking midfielder from Tigres UANL for the largest transfer fee in club history.
Despite NYCFC's best effort, they weren't able to overcome the player deficit and the 1-0 scoreline stood after 90 minutes.
- 56' - CLB - Lucas Zelarayan | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: After advancing to the quarterfinals of Concacaf Champions League on Wednesday, NYCFC is surely looking to get a strong start in MLS, but going down to 10 men in this game and losing Chanot next week against Toronto FC is not going to help. For Columbus, their big signing is already paying off and they can't complain about kicking off the season with a win against last year's best Eastern Conference side.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Chanot's red card in the third minute changed the strategy for both sides and gave the Crew a clear advantage.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Expectations were high for Zelarayan, coming to Columbus after scoring 23 goals and adding 14 assists in his four seasons with Tigres. While the 27-year-old didn't have the most shots for his side this afternoon, he had the one that counted and gave Columbus all three points.
- Defenders Vito Wormgoor and Chris Cadden, as well as midfielders Darlington Nagbe and Lucas Zelarayan, along with forward Fanendo Adi made their first regular-season appearances for Crew SC in today's home match against New York City FC. Wormgoor, Nagbe and Zelarayan all started for the Crew in today’s match, while Adi and Cadden came into the match as substitutes.
- Lucas Zelarayan marked his Crew SC regular-season debut by scoring his first MLS career goal in today’s 1-0 victory over New York City FC. The midfielder's game-winning goal came in the 56th minute, when he received the ball inside the box before sending it into the left upper corner. The Argentine finished the night with two shots (one on target), one chance created, 65 touches and 31 passes.
- Crew SC goalkeeper Eloy Room recorded a shutout in today’s match against NYCFC. The midfielder registered three saves en route to helping the Black & Gold record their first clean sheet of the 2020 MLS season. This was Room’s second shutout since joining Crew SC on July 5, 2019, with his last clean sheet coming last year during a home match against the Philadelphia Union (September 29). Since joining Crew SC, Room has made 13 regular-season appearances (all starts), registering 36 saves and six wins.
- With his start in today’s match, defender Jonathan Mensah reached 75 regular-season starts for Crew SC since joining the Club ahead of the 2017 MLS season. Since joining the Crew, Mensah has made 78 regular-season appearances, scoring three goals and providing one assist.
- Today’s match marked Milton Valenzuela’s first regular-season appearance for Crew SC since a start on October 28, 2018, in a home match against Minnesota United. Valenzuela suffered an injury during the 2019 preseason and had to undergo Anterior Cruciate Ligament reconstruction on his right knee on February 7 of that year. During today’s match, the Argentine defender played the entire 90 minutes while also registering 106 touches and 81 passes – more than any player on either team during the match.
- Crew SC picked up right where it left off in 2019 with a home victory after scoring first. The Black & Gold were 6-2-2 in 2019 when scoring first at home. With its result in today’s match, Crew SC brings its 2020 MLS regular-season record to 1-0-0.
- Next up, Crew SC travels to face Seattle Sounders FC for its first regular-season road contest of 2020 on Saturday, March 7 (10:00 p.m. ET / SportsTime Ohio, FOX Sports GO / 1460AM ESPN and streaming online via the “Listen Live” button at 971TheFan.com / Spanish audio on ColumbusCrewSC.com).