Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Zelarayán's Early Success Shows Healthy Crew Environment

 As the MLS season limps along with fits and starts one thing appears to be a sure thing - the Crew environment.

Finding a fit in MLS can sometimes appear to be more of an art than science. The success rate of players all across the pay spectrum appears to be random at times. Why did "Fancy Spainard" with all the tools and skills of a top player not work, while "Surprise Venezuelan" who has a limited set of abilities to work with, does work.

The answer is that it's more alchemy than a synthetic drug. Environment, teammates, coaches, and the like are simple things that are out of a player's control, yet have to be right. Things like ability, mentality, and attitude in a player can all be perfect tens and it wouldn't matter if the clubhouse isn't right.

Adding to the complexity of the formula bubbling over the brim of a wood-fired cauldron is the temperature of which to cook all these things. Time and time again in MLS, and more often than tiered leagues, we see top players not work out. Getting the mix right is difficult. 

A word that is thrown around quite a bit is "culture." It's easy to cringe when you see that word pop on your Twitter timeline or mentioned in a post-match interview. But, it's an important word, none the less.

A player like Lucas Zelarayan will not work if conditions are not right, but for him in Columbus, they appear to be. Through his first 324 minutes, he has managed 3 goals and 2 assists and has a high WhoScored rating of 7.80.

It's not the three goal demolition of Chicago, but the recent game against a very good NYCFC you see the importance of a player like Zelarayan. For the Crew to stay with the top teams in MLS, he needs to stay healthy.

Honestly, though, the more important takeaway, for now, is that he worked at all in his first few games. A little early to call it a successful signing? Yes. But not too early to say that the environment he walked into appears to be healthy.

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