After only three weeks of competitive soccer in the 2021-2022 MLS season, there are no undefeated teams left. Charlotte FC continues to be extremely unlucky, and Austin FC's streak of 10 goals in two games comes to a close at the hands of the defending Western Conference champions. After all of the drama-filled action, the Crew and LAFC continue to impress, while the Revolution are shattered at the death, and the Galaxy score in the first six minutes, but fall short on the road in Seattle.
Lucas Zelarayán and the Columbus Crew complete a comeback at home to go top of the Eastern Conference. Down by one goal just 14 minutes into the match, the Crew clawed their way back and finally broke through in the second half with two goals. It only takes one stroke of magic for the Crew to completely change the game. Toronto and Bill Bradley came out with a new 3-4-3 formation which caught the Crew off guard to start the match. The 29-year-old from Argentina just signed a new contract due for three more years. With some new stars coming into the MLS next season, Zelarayán is making his mark as the best player in Major League Soccer.
After the win over Toronto, star Lucas Zelarayán spoke to the media, stating, "We needed to win today so we could make that last point in the draw count...When we went into halftime down a goal, we felt at peace because we knew that we were playing well, we were playing better. That served as the impetus for us coming into the second half."
The Argentine has netted six goals in the last six matches dating back to last season. This Columbus team plays with a lot of swag and could have scored even more against Toronto FC over the weekend. The high-powered offense of the Crew has scored the second-most goals in the MLS this season with nine, only behind Austin FC at 10. On the way to the MLS Cup this season, the Eastern Conference may have to run through Historic Crew Stadium with the way the 2020 MLS Cup champions are playing early on in the season.
The defending champions, NYCFC get its first win of the season against CF Montréal who just keep kicking itself in the foot with the number of errors it produces. The first two goals in the Bronx over the weekend were put in with relative ease, and NYCFC kept it moving even with the leading scorer from last season, Valentín Castellanos having a rough beginning to the season.
A three-goal win against a sub-par team will give Ronny Deila and company a lot of confidence heading into their title defense in 2022. Montréal looked lively after it scored its first goal of the match, and NYCFC had to clean up its response after the opposition scores, but the champions showed the MLS they can turn it up at any point in the match, scoring two shortly after that stretch.
Charlotte FC netted the first goal of its franchises' history in the 60th minute of the match against Atlanta United. A 60th-minute penalty and a stoppage-time winner denied the Queen City their first points as an MLS franchise. Brad Guzman made some spectacular saves in the first half to keep Charlotte FC, and Atlanta all knotted at zero heading into the break. Another disheartening result for a team that has given it their all over the last three weeks, but ended up falling short each time.
29-year-old Christian Ortiz is showing potential signs that he could be a solid contributor on the goal creation side for the new expansion side, but right now there is no clear finisher for this club. Heading into its next match against the Revolution, Charlotte will march into the match with more confidence, knowing it can find the back of the net at the end of the day. The Revs will be low on confidence going into next week against Charlotte after they let up a two-goal lead at home to Real Salt Lake who is slowly becoming a threat in the MLS.
RSL made a miraculous run in the MLS Cup playoffs last season and is starting to build off what Pablo Mastroeni started mid-season last year. The team conquered the Sounders, Sporting Kansas City before they lost to the Timbers on the road in the Western Conference finals. A win in a snowy Gillette Stadium after going down by two with just under 30 minutes remaining demonstrates to the league, this team is going nowhere. Real Salt Lake sits tied atop the conference with seven points along with the Union, Columbus, and LAFC.
The sport of soccer is all about momentum, and this team without a doubt has it. RSL has left off right where it started last season, as it is among the seven unbeaten teams in Major League Soccer to begin the year. Six teams remain winless heading into the fourth week of the season. With plenty of time left in the MLS season, there is much to be decided.
Nobody knows what any of these teams are going to look like after 10 more weeks. Bruce Arena and the Revolution will eventually figure it out with all the talent they have at their disposal. The Crew seems to be going nowhere, and NYCFC is yet to unlock the potential that this team knows it can reach. Both Los Angeles teams look like they can contend even though one of them took a tough defeat at Lumen Field. Another exhilarating week of MLS passes by, and there is so much to learn, but one thing is for sure. This league is unpredictable, and that is what makes it must-watch television.