Columbus Crew SC found itself in unfamiliar territory Saturday afternoon, as the Black & Gold went into halftime trailing 2-0 for the first time this season. Following a flurry of offense early from the Chicago Fire, the Crew allowed two goals within the first 14 minutes of the match, doubling the number of goals against Columbus for the entire season.
As the first half progressed, the defense settled into the game and began to show more of the poise and structure that has led the team to a historic start to the season. But it was clear that the Crew offense was going to have to go to work coming out of halftime to overcome the 2-0 deficit.
And go to work the offense did, led by a goal and an assist from forward Gyasi Zardes. And because of Zardes’ work, the striker is on the MLS Team of the Week yet again.
Columbus has scored more goals in the second half this season than any other club in Major League Soccer and against the Fire, when it mattered most, Gyasi Zardes rallied the Black & Gold attack and was directly involved in both Columbus goals that led to the club rallying to a 2-2 draw, narrowly avoiding what could have been only the team’s second loss of the 2020 MLS season.
The first of Columbus’ goals came off of a Pedro Santos corner kick that Zardes was able to connect with his head, in what initially looked like a goal for the American striker. Upon closer review, however, it was shown that Zardes’ header was actually redirected by Crew newcomer Fatai Alashe, giving Zards his second assist of the season.
The second goal of the night for the Black & Gold was equally unconventional. With mere minutes left in the game, and the Black & Gold still trailing 2-1, Youness Mokhtar fired a shot from outside of the penalty box into traffic. The ball deflected off of a Chicago defender bouncing directly into the skilled-feet of Zardes. With the match on the line, Zardes fired his shot into the back of the net, landing himself on the scoresheet for the eighth time this season, second only to Los Angeles Football Club’s Diego Rossi.
The assist and subsequent goal by the leading American goalscorer allowed Columbus to level the match at 2-2, and leave Soldier Field with a hard-fought point. The impressive performance also saw Zardes named to the MLS Team of the Week for the second consecutive week. Again, Zardes was the lone representative for the Black & Gold.
The draw allowed the Crew slight breathing room at the top of the Eastern Conference and Supporters’ Shield standings, with three points separating Columbus and second place clubs Philadelphia Union and Toronto FC.