Columbus, Ohio (August 11, 2018) — Gyasi Zardes struggled finding space for almost the entire night on Saturday. But when his team needed him most, he delivered.
The Columbus Crew SC target man’s 91st-minute goal broke a scoreless deadlock and vaulted the Black and Gold to a 1-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo. It marks the club’s fourth straight home win over Houston and also extends their current winning streak to three games.
For Zardes, the late strike was his 14th goal of the season which puts him three away from setting a new regular season career-high.
Gyasi Zardes’ 14th Goal of 2018 Vaults Columbus Crew SC to 1-0 Win Over Houston Dynamo
Gaston Sauro made his second start of 2018 and first since June 30, joining Jonathan Mensah in central defense. Justin Meram, in his first game since returning to the club, began the game on the bench. The left-wing position, which no particular player has been able to cement a long-term starting role at, went to Mike Grella. His last start came on June 9.
Possession Without Purpose for Much of the Game
In the first half, neither side exhibited much control over the game. For Crew SC, it was an opening stanza marked by possession without much purpose. In particular, there wasn’t a whole lot of interconnectedness in the attack. Perhaps the most glaring statistic in that regard was the fact that Crew SC created just two chances in the opening 45 minutes.
That’s in stark contrast to the Dynamo who finished with a 6-3 advantage in total shots when referee Mark Geiger blew the whistle for halftime. Still, Crew SC goalkeeper Zack Steffen was more than up to the task keeping their two shots on target out of the net.
Not much changed for most of the second half. Both sides traded opportunities but both Steffen and Dynamo keeper Joe Willis confidently dealt with them. The best chance for the visitors came in the 72nd minute when Andrew Wenger collected a headed down ball from Leonardo and blasted it at the far post. However, Steffen quickly dove to his right and parried it away.
— Houston Dynamo (@HoustonDynamo) August 12, 2018
Gregg Berhalter’s Tactical Gambit
What paved the way for a potential Crew SC win was the tactical adjustment manager Gregg Berhalter made in the 75th minute. It was then that he brought on Patrick Mullins in place of Federico Higuain. What this did was add another striker for the Dynamo center backs to track which in theory should open up space for Zardes.
That’s exactly what happened one minute into stoppage time. A long, curling cross from the right-hand side via Harrison Afful found Zardes at the top of the box. He then chested it down and calmly slid the ball past Willis for the eventual game-winner. Needless to say, it evoked a rapturous reaction from the home crowd.
— Columbus Crew SC (@ColumbusCrewSC) August 12, 2018
Not much changed with regard to Crew SC’s position in the Eastern Conference standings. They remain in fourth place but have quite a bit of distance between them and the teams below them. Their currently nine points ahead of the Philadelphia Union who are currently in fifth.
The Black and Gold are back on the road for their next two games. First up is a tilt against Atlanta United on Sunday, August 19th followed by a rivalry matchup with the Chicago Fire on Thursday, August 23. Those games kick off at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. respectively.