A 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls on Saturday night may not have been the ideal result for the Columbus Crew SC’s home opener. However, one positive thing Crew fans can take form the match is the seemingly complete comeback of center back Gaston Sauro.
The 29-year-old scored the Black & Gold’s lone goal off of a corner from fellow Argentinian Federico Higuain. Sauro made quick contact with his head, causing the ball to deflect off of his defender and into the back of the net.
MAPFRE stadium was elated, and not just because they had just witnessed the first goal of the 2019 season. It was a full circle moment for Sauro, who thought he might not ever set foot on the pitch again after a devastating knee injury over two years ago kept him out for the rest of the 2017 and the majority of 2018. He made his initial comeback last May and ended the campaign with eight starts. Before Saturday, Sauro had three shots and zero goals in his 24 games with the club.
“I am so happy,” Sauro said after Saturday’s match. “I was fighting for two years to win this moment, and now I have the opportunity to score.”
When asked about a celebration, Sauro said the congratulations from his teammates were enough for him at the time, though he did mention the appreciation he has for his doctors and his family who helped get through the tough times.
File this under the “way to early” category, #Crew96 defender Gaston Sauro is currently tied for third place in the Golden Boot race.— Ralph Schudel (@schudel_ralph) March 4, 2019
Crew captain Wil Trapp acknowledged the meaning this goal has for his teammate.
“I thought for him, his story and how far he’s come, it’s pretty amazing and it’s great that he got the goal today,” the midfielder said. “It was a big one for us.”
This wasn’t the only time Sauro found himself in the goal box Saturday. Though he acknowledged that sometimes he ended up there because of “personal desire,” head coach Caleb Porter wanted the backline to press high, especially on set pieces. He knows how important those plays will be for the team this season.
“It’s good to get that first set piece goal, and good for the center backs to chip in,” he said.
Regardless of the tremendous personal achievement, Sauro isn’t content with one goal and a tie.
“I think we have a lot to improve,” he told reporters. “We go to the next game with heads up and to get the away points.”
For fans, however, it’s pretty exciting to know that the player who was never supposed to play soccer again scored the first goal for the team who was never supposed to see Columbus again.