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Anatomy of a Goal: Zardes wins it and gets his first hat trick

This week we look at Gyasi Zardes’s game-winning goal against Minnesota United.

MLS: Minnesota United FC at Columbus Crew SC Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Anatomy of a Goal, where each week we dissect one goal (or near goal) from Columbus Crew SC‘s previous match.

For match 34 of the 2018 MLS season, we take a look at Gyasi Zardes’ 83rd minute goal that gave Crew SC a 3-2 lead and win over Minnesota United in the final regular season match of 2018.

Here’s a look at the third goal on the night for the Columbus striker.

After an extended break for bad weather, the Black & Gold jumped out to an early lead on Minnesota with a Zardes header from a corner kick. Zardes found the net again in the second half but Crew SC ultimately squandered the lead and found themselves in a tie game against a team that they should have beaten easily.

Zardes’ game winner, which also completed the first hat trick of his career, began on a throw in. Pedro Santos hurls the ball back to captain Wil Trapp.

Trapp contains the throw and quickly slides a pass over to Josh Williams in the middle of the field. Williams steps up into space to receive Trapp’s pass.

The Loons were pinned back from consistent Columbus pressure and did not push forward to mark Williams. The center back has plenty of space to move closer to his opponent’s goal.

As Minnesota finally begins to apply some pressure, Williams must decide whether to continue carrying the ball forward or to play a pass out to Harrison Afful on the wing.

Williams sees an unmarked Afful and quickly plays a pass up the right wing to his right back.

Afful has no one between him and the end line. He carries the ball forward while Zardes and Niko Hansen move into position. Both attackers must be mindful of remaining onside as Minnesota sets up at the top of the 18-yard box.

Afful carries the ball forward until defensive pressure finally arrives. Now, he must chose between three options. He can play a cross into the path of an onrushing Zardes, knock a quick through pass to Hansen or continue carrying the ball toward the end line.

The Black & Gold’s right back opts to slide a quick through ball to Hansen.

From the side angle, it’s clear that Hansen is onside. The winger held up his run just enough to ensure that he did not go past the last defender.

Hansen gets on the end of Afful’s pass and quickly turns toward the goal. Zardes sees his window and makes a diagonal run between the Minnesota defenders.

Crew SC’s winger plays a cross back into the penalty box just as he reaches the end line. Zardes has already beaten the man on his back and is in an excellent position to receive this pass.

Former Columbus goalkeeper Matt Lampson is almost able to get a hand on the ball, but ultimately is just a few inches short. Zardes only has to redirect the pass into the goal.

With pressure on his back, Zardes quickly redirects Hansen’s pass . . .

. . . into the back of the net!


  1. This was one of Crew SC’s simpler goals on the season and a shining example of the Gregg Berhalter system working well. Columbus must continue to build on plays like this if they hope to move past D.C. United on Thursday.
  2. Afful’s pass to Hansen was perfectly timed and perfectly weighted. Hansen stutters his run to remain onside and then plays another excellent ball to Zardes.
  3. Zardes does exactly what makes him effective by getting to the right place at the right time.