Columbus Crew: Good thing they didn’t give up on Gyasi Zardes

Columbus Crew were smart to continue believing in Gyasi Zardes

It’s about time for Columbus Crew supporters to jump back on the wagon of forward Gyasi Zardes. If there’s a favorite MLS player that you’re thinking of giving up on, consider the Zardes story. Late last year supporters and media were pounding posts out railing how Zardes failed to meet the standards of his contract. He was the team’s highest-paid player and he was just not playing like it.

Add to that the fact that one season earlier, LA Galaxy had traded Zardes to the Crew for forward Ola Kamara.  Zardes had signed with them in 2012 as a homegrown player. The striker was supposed to score enough goals for the Crew to make the 2019 postseason. Instead, the team ended up 10th in the Eastern Conference, just two spots above last-place FC Cincinnati.

Zardes was a team leader with 13 goals. But the team didn’t get the leadership everyone was looking for. He scored the most goals, yet the team fell to near the bottom of the conference. However, this season, Zardes has stepped up big time. Everything is different for the better.

Columbus Crew proves you should never give up on a player

He’s scored nine goals – 10 shy of the total he netted in his first season with the Crew, 2018. His best game this season was on Sept. 20, a shutout against Nashville SC.

In that game, Zardes scored, won four aerials, and registered two key passes out of a total of 24. He got involved in the defense enough to make two tackles.

Where he produced last season – even if below expectations – this season he’s outplaying any weaknesses. He’s become the player Columbus Crew coaches and supporters wanted.

He’s never had anything to regret. Zardes worked his way up through the Development Academy system and college play. As a sophomore at CSU Bakersfield, he scored 18 goals in 20 matches.

That got scouts busy and won him a homegrown player contract with LA Galaxy in 2012. While a big player, he’s repeatedly demonstrated excellent movement off the ball. He can play with his back to the goal, using outstanding vision. He also effectively seizes opportunities to improve.

This season, especially in the game against Nashville, he demonstrated better, more consistent passing than early scouting reports thought him capable. He maintained possession consistently, as well. Zardes took a while last season to find himself. He couldn’t have picked a better time. It’s good for him and for Columbus Crew that he’s arrived once more. Now tied for first place in the Eastern Conference, he’ll help the team start building distance between them and Toronto FC.