Throughout the MLS season, I'm going to be adding a new, league-wide update with a quick notebook of major stories from the past weekend and beyond. This is an Orlando City website, but every Wednesday*, we're widening our view to the whole of the league.
*It's Thursday this week because I was swamped, sorry y'all.
Columbus Crew's Lucas Zelarayán named MLS Player of the Month
The first month of the MLS season is over and we have the first monthly MVP, Columbus's Lucas Zelarayán. The Armenian international is the league's joint leader in goals with four, scoring four wonderful strikes including a pair of direct free kicks. He also has a pair of assists.
Zelarayán is leading a revitalized Crew team, currently sitting second in the Eastern Conference with eight points. The former Tigres star did pick up an injury against the New York Red Bulls before the international break, but he isn't expected to miss significant time.
Charlotte FC, Karol Swiderski making noise after consecutive wins
After a slow start to life in MLS, the league's newest team, Charlotte FC are on fire, picking up a second-straight win after defeating FC Cincinnati 2-0. The new boys are led by Polish international striker Karol Swiderski, who now has four goals in his last two games. The former PAOK forward had a signature moment against Cincinnati with a thunderbolt of a free kick to beat Alec Kann at the far post.
Swiderski looks the part of an MVP-level Designated Player signing and Charlotte are playing delightful soccer. Rookie Ben Bender had another assist, giving him one goal and three assists in his first five professional games. Goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina is a beastly shot-stopper and provides quality distribution from the back. Charlotte look good, but more importantly, look fun.
As for Cincinnati, it was a disappointing fall back to earth after two wins of their own, made all the worse by a serious ankle injury to Ronald Mattarita during World Cup Qualifying. However, Pat Noonan's team look like the best Cincinnati team of the MLS era, and the likes of Kann and Luciano Acosta still give the Ohioans hope of a better 2022 season.