Despite Columbus Crew SC playing three matches over the span of the last eight days, it was a successful last week for the Black & Gold. After getting a 0-0 draw against the Seattle Sounders on the road, despite playing down a man for 75 minutes, Crew SC returned home for two victories this week, 1-0 over the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday and a 3-0 win over the Chicago Fire on Saturday.
Due to the results, three members of the Columbus on-field organization were recognized on Monday by Major League Soccer. Forward Gyasi Zardes, goalkeeper Zack Steffen and head coach Gregg Berhalter were all named to the MLS Team of the Week.
Zardes came into Wednesday’s match against the Union already having a great start to the year with five goals. The first-year Crew SC striker increased on his season total with three goals in the two matches. He had a one-touch finish into an open net on Wednesday after Philadelphia goalkeeper Andre Blake misplayed a cross. He followed that up with a brace against the Fire, finishing off a nifty Niko Hansen run with another one-touch strike and curling home the third goal to cap his night. Zardes was also brought down in the penalty box on the play that led to Federico Higuain’s penalty kick.
The Crew SC striker is now tied for the league lead with eight goals so far in 2018 and is already halfway to his career high of 16.
Steffen continued his strong start to 2018 by recording his second and third consecutive shutouts this week. Against the Union, the young Columbus goalkeeper made three saves, including one from point-blank range on CJ Sapong late that helped preserve the victory, and followed that up with a four-save performance in the win over the Fire. Although he did have a couple of scary moments passing out of the back early against Chicago, Steffen weathered the storm for a solid outing.
Berhalter successfully navigated a congested week, rotating his squad successfully to get a full seven points from the eight-day stretch. On Wednesday, he chose to sit his playmaker in Higuain in favor of rookie Luis Argudo, and on Saturday rested captain and central midfielder Wil Trapp. Despite that, the Black & Gold came out of the two matches with the maximum six points.
For Zardes and Berhalter, this is each their second Team of the Week honors of 2018. Zardes was on the bench following his two-goal outing against the Montreal Impact in Week 2 and Berhalter was on the Week 4 Team of the Week after his team dispatched of D.C. United 3-1. This is Steffen’s first Team of the Week honor of the season.
Crew SC currently sit tied for second place in the Eastern Conference with 21 points, but Columbus has played at least one more game than every other team in the conference.