Gyasi Zardes had himself quite the week. Just days after turning 29 years old and welcoming his fourth child into the world, the American striker welcomed FC Cincinnati into a world of hurt. The Columbus Crew SC forward scored two goals in seven minutes, earning himself a place on the MLS Team of the Week.
What’s even more impressive about Zardes’ performance was he managed his success while coming off the bench. Crew head coach Caleb Porter elected to give Fanendo Adi his first starting in black and gold against his former team after Zardes spent two nights in the hospital as his wife gave birth.
With Adi taking on the role of starting striker in Sunday’s Hell is Real Derby, Zardes did not enter the match until the 62nd minute with the Crew leading 1-0 following an earlier goal from Pedro Santos.
It took Zardes only two minutes to make his present felt, scoring his sixth goal of the season. Seven short minutes later, the striker made it two on the night and secured a dominate 3-0 victory for the Black & Gold, all within a nine-minute span of coming into the match.
Zardes also took part in Columbus’ 1-0 win against the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday. While the forward was held in check in that match, he was still able to do enough to be named to the Team of the Week.
There were a number of other Black & Gold players who might be disappointed to not see their name on the Team of the Week list. Columbus recorded two shutouts this week, yet goalkeeper Eloy Room or center back Jonathan Mensah did not receive honors. Playmaker Lucas Zelarayan didn’t play against FC Cincinnati after “taking a knock” but scored another long-range blast to win the game against Philadelphia. Santos managed a goal and two assists over his two games played this week but didn’t even make the bench. Porter also was key in making changes to get his team both wins this week, but was overlooked in favor of Philadelphia coach Jim Curtin.
With his dominant second half performance against the Crew’s in-state rivals, Zardes has now scored seven goals during the Major League Soccer 2020 regular season, moving him into second place in the MLS Golden Boot standings behind Los Angeles Football Club’s Diego Rossi’s nine goals.
With two more victories this week, the Black & Gold remain at the top of both the Eastern Conference and Supporters’ Shield standings with 23 points. Columbus is currently five points ahead of both the Union and Toronto FC for the top spot in MLS.