With the MLS Cup playoffs looming ahead, the Columbus Crew SC need to find a way to get others involved in the goal-scoring, alongside Gyasi Zardes. He is, at this point, a one-man who up front for the Crew.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (Aug. 30, 2018) — Gyasi Zardes is no stranger to finding the back of the net in Major League Soccer.
In four years with the LA Galaxy, Zardes scored 36 goals in the regular season and two in playoff action. His best season came in 2014, in which he tallied 16 goals, also providing two assists. During that season, Zardes started 26 out of 32 MLS regular-season matches.
This year, with a new team, Zardes is looking to break his own personal highest-scoring season. Now with the Columbus Crew SC, a revitalized Zardes sits on 15 goals, one short of his record. There are still eight matches left in the regular season.
And right now, the Columbus Crew SC aren’t looking for anyone else to find the back of the net. Zardes leads the Crew in goals this season. There is nobody even close to Zardes. Federico Higuain has scored four goals for the Crew this season. After the Argentinian, there are 12 players that have scored one goal.
Zardes wants an MLS Cup
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Zardes has found a new hope for not only his own career, but for his national team hopes. His presence under Curt Onalfo — who took over after Bruce Arena went to the U.S. Men’s National Team — was lost. Now, under Gregg Berhalter, Zardes has found a system that works.
Zardes told the Columbus Dispatch that it ‘feels great’ to be at 15 goals ‘before playoffs start’:
"“As a striker, you want to be on a good roll before playoffs start. I want an MLS Cup so bad. I want to win that for this city and this team. They took a chance on me, and there is no better way (to show appreciation) than to work extremely hard to win an MLS Cup.”"
Berhalter has faith in Zardes
Berhalter understands that his system is working for Zardes.
That’s what he planned for.
"“The way we play, we want to provide goal-scoring opportunities for our striker, and he has been a guy that has been really great in bringing the work and the mindset and the attitude to that position.”"
However, the Crew can’t just rely on Zardes. Throughout the playoffs, teams will face the same clubs they competed against in the regular-season. Teams will understand the need to put possibly two defenders on one of the hottest strikers in the game right now. That’s when players like Pedro Santos, Patrick Mullins and Higuain need to step up, helping Zardes lead the attack.
Columbus will have a long road to the MLS Cup. There are three teams ahead of the Crew in the Eastern Conference, including New York City FC, whom the Crew face on Saturday. In first place, the New York Red Bulls sit with 55 points and not far behind Atlanta United holds on to 54 points.
Zardes is the best option in scoring goals for Columbus. However, it can’t be a one-man show up front if Columbus wants a realistic shot at winning the MLS Cup.