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Malte Amundsen: The one who got away

The defender who struggled to find minutes at NYCFC was one of the best players on the field when Columbus Crew won the 2023 MLS Cup.

Malte in sunnier times | Courtesy

Cucho Hernandez was named the Player of the Match after Columbus Crew’s win on Saturday night in the MLS Cup Final, but it’s the performance from left-back Malte Amundsen that has the soccerati talking. 

The defense-splitting pass from Amundsen in the 37th minute was easily the most exquisite through-ball played in MLS this year. There was nothing flashy about it. Amundsen received the ball in the center circle, then delivered a low, crisp pass upfield. 

But that simple ball play neutralized six LAFC players as it traveled one-third of the field to find the feet of a Yaw Yeboah running at the goal. Yeboah controlled the ball with one touch, then scored with the next, logging what would prove to be the title-winning goal. 

Usually, it’s the scorers who get the headlines, but the piece Jeff Reuter wrote for The Athletic correctly looked at Amundsen’s “iconic assist” as not just the key moment in this specific game, but as an example of why Columbus lifted the MLS Cup in their first season under head coach Wilfried Nancy. 

This isn’t a book report on Reuter’s piece — you should go ahead and read it for yourself. Instead, we’ll use it as a jumping-off point. The article opens with a simple statement of fact: Amundsen started the season not with Columbus but with New York City FC, where he struggled to find minutes under head coach Nick Cushing. A regular starter for NYCFC in 2021 and 2022, Amundsen didn’t play a single minute under Cushing in the nine games he was with the team in 2023. Zero starts, zero substitutions, zero minutes: The player who was instrumental in the Crew’s win never stepped on the field for New York City this year.

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