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Socceroo Smith falls short in MLS decider

Lucas Zelarayan scored the first and third goals and assisted on the second for the Columbus Crew who defeated the defending champion Seattle Sounders 3-0 in the MLS Cup on Saturday.

Socceroos defender Brad Smith came on at halftime for Seattle but was unable to help his team defend their title at Mapfre Stadium in Ohio in front of a limited capacity of 1,500.

Zelarayan made it 1-0 in the 25th minute, Derrick Etienne Jr. scored six minutes later before Zelarayan capped the scoring with a sweet strike into the upper left corner in the 82nd.

Columbus, the third seed in the Eastern Conference, won their second title, matching 2008. The Crew lost the 2015 MLS Cup at home to the Portland Timbers, who were coached by current Crew coach Caleb Porter.

Zelarayan, the MLS Newcomer of the Year after coming to Columbus from Mexico’s Tigres, volleyed home his first playoff goal after one-touching a 40-yard Harrison Afful cross to the back post.

Argentine Zelarayan set up Etienne for his fifth assist in four playoff games.

Etienne, who missed the past two matches because of a positive COVID-19 test, started because Pedro Santos tested positive on Thursday as did Darlington Nagbe and both were unable to play.

Sounders keeper Stefan Frei made two fine saves as did Crew keeper Eloy Room, who pushed away a Jordan Morris header just before Zelarayan made it 3-0.

Outgoing champions Seattle, second in the Western Conference, has reached the MLS Cup four times in the past five years, also winning it in 2016.

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