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Late goal caps historic home opener for Columbus Crew SC

Mar 10, 2018; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Crew SC forward Gyasi Zardes (11) celebrates his goal in the first half against the Montreal Impact at MAPFRE Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Crew SC kept sizzling this week as the Crew took a quick lead in their home opener against the Montreal Impact, eventually holding on for a 3-2 win.

12 minutes into the match, former Crew SC defender Jukka Raitala dragged down Lalas Abubakar on a corner kick for an early penalty kick. Federico Higuain scored the attempt as Montreal keeper Evan Bush guessed incorrectly and dove the opposite direction. The strike was the 50th career goal for Higuain, making him the 60th MLS player to reach that mark, and just the third in Crew SC history (Brian McBride, Jeff Cunningham).

“I think he’s a great player. He’s a hugely important part of what we do…I wasn’t fortunate enough to coach some of these great players in Crew history, but in my mind he’s up there at the top of the list,” head coach Gregg Berhalter said.

The scoring continued in the 15th minute when new team addition Gyasi Zardes tapped home a sitter off the crossbar. The ball came in from an Artur header, and the tally made Zardes the first player in Crew SC history to score a goal in his first two games with the club.

“I’m trying to progress every single day. Like I told [my teammates] I will keep working hard for them. They’ve already worked hard for myself,” Zardes said.

Columbus continued to be the dominant team in the first half, easily stopping the Impact offense and holding them without a shot on goal. All of that changed in the second half. Coming out of the locker rooms, the energy had switched between the two sides. Montreal kept Crew SC on the defensive and broke through in the 59th minute when Ignacio Piatti blasted the ball into the side netting. They kept up the pressure and scored a deserving equalizer in the 85th minute off a Raheem Edwards volley that could easily be up for goal of the week.

“I want to give Montreal a lot of credit. Piatti is a guy, historically, that kills us. Absolutely kills us. Finds a way to score every single game. It changes the game,” Berhalter said.

As the cliché goes, it’s not over until it’s over. Looking to be headed for a certain draw, Ken Krolicki stumbled over himself in the box and took out Crew SC rookie midfielder Luis Argudo for the second Columbus penalty of the game. Zardes took this one, scoring in the 94th minute in bold fashion to give Columbus the victory. It was the latest game-winning goal for Crew SC since Justin Meram scored in the same minute against Seattle in 2014.

Asked about his thoughts on drawing the game changing PK, Argudo said “just hope we score the PK. I don’t care who takes it, as long as we win.”

Seeing Zardes take the penalty late was a surprise to many, as Higuain typically takes those duties. Zardes asked to take this one, and the midfielder obliged.

“I always miss on that [south side] goal. Always. I think I’ve missed 4 or 5 PKs, so why not try something new,” Higuain said.

Crew SC will look to continue their winning streak next week on the road against the Philadelphia Union.

 

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