Columbus Crew SC love the Carolina Charleston Challenge Cup.
After winning the preseason tournament last year, the Black & Gold returned to Charleston in preparation for the 2018 Major League Soccer season. Once again, Crew SC is handling business at the Challenge Cup, moving to 2-0 this year in the tournament with a 2-1 win over host-side Charleston Battery.
Columbus began the game with a mixed lineup of starters, reserves, Academy product and players looking to make this year’s team. Zack Steffen began in goal with Connor Maloney, Jonathan Mensah, youth product Aboubacar Keita and Hector Jimenez in front of him. The midfield featured another Academy product in Sean Zawadski along with Cristian Martinez, Mohammed Abu, Pedro Santos and Eduardo Sosa as well as Adam Jahn playing up top.
The first 45 minutes was largely dominated by the Battery, who looked clearly the more comfortable side.
After several opportunities, Charleston finally broke through. Abu gave the ball away near midfield and it was played forward. Striker Ian Svantesson was there to take advantage, beating Steffen for the 1-0 lead.
At the half, Crew SC made wholesale changes, bringing in Logan Ketterer at goalkeeper with Harrison Afful, Lalas Abubakar, Alex Crognale and Milton Valenzuela as his backline. The midfield consisted of Eduardo Opoku and Luis Argudo on the wings with Ricardo Clark and Artur in the midfield. Federico Higuain and Gyasi Zardes were the front two, with Columbus’ No. 10 playing in behind.
This second half lineup came to play, creating numerous chances.
Zardes was the benefactor of Crew SC’s attack. In the 56th minute, the Black & Gold’s new forward headed home an effort from Opoku.
He did the same from Afful 26 minutes later to give his side the win.
Columbus now sits in first place in the Carolina Challenge Cup with one game remaining. That contest will kickoff on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET.