Two first half goals from Gyasi Zardes were the difference for the hosts on the day, who secured the win and all three points despite not playing too well. To be fair, their job was made easier due to the fact that Chicago were even worse, and they continued their lengthy road winless streak as a result.
Story of the match
Columbus had the ball in the back of the net in the opening 10 minutes when Josh Williams headed the ball out of the arms of goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth from close range. The goal would not stand, though, as the referee correctly called a foul on the play.
They would officially take the lead a little bit later, though. A corner wasn’t cleared properly by Chicago, which allowed the ball to fall right to Gyasi Zardes in the area. He made the most of the bounce, slamming a shot into the back of the net through the crowd of bodies.
The Crew then caught a bit of a break, as Derrick Etienne very well could have been sent off. In a moment of madness, he decided to put a hand to the face of Miguel Navarro before shoving him to the ground. The referee gave Etienne a yellow, and despite Chicago’s pleas, a VAR review did not lead to a changed decision.
It would be 2-0 near the hour mark. A long ball over the top picked out the run of Etienne in behind the Fire backline, and he settled the pass before laying the ball off to Zardes, who easily tapped it into the back of an empty net.
Chicago started the second half on the front foot, and they really should’ve pulled one back early on. A corner whipped into the box flew right to Carlos Terán, but he couldn’t redirect a header on target, instead hitting it narrowly over the bar.
However, that would prove to be the only really big chance of the half, as Columbus were able to hold on with relative ease.
"It's levels to it, you and I know"
At the risk of explaining things too simply, this was a game between a team that is good and a team that is bad.
After a slow start to the season, Columbus have bounced back well, with this win being their third straight. Defensively solid throughout, they didn’t allow the opposition to create many chances on the afternoon. Then, when they went forward themselves, they were clinical, converting the opportunities that came their way. It wasn’t the most emphatic or dominant victory for the Crew, but it was enough to send the Historic Crew Stadium out on a high.
Chicago, meanwhile, played just like they have for most of the year. They seemed aimless and toothless on the attack, with no one in the final third stepping up the challenge of the occasion. Things were even worse at the back, as a number of defensive mistakes was what cost them on the day. The Fire are already under pressure to start picking up points, and unless there’s a turnaround soon, then this campaign might be all but over.
Man of the match - Gyasi Zardes
This game was peak Gyasi Zardes.
All things considered, he didn’t actually do much on the day. Zardes didn’t have many touches, and he wasn’t involved in most of Columbus’ build-up play.
However, he still managed to score twice to lead his team to victory. An old-school attacking masterclass of sorts, the striker just knew where to be and how to finish. His first goal was an instinctive one, as he reacted quickly to a loose ball that fell his way to convert from close range. The second was somehow easier, as he was able to get wide open before simply passing the ball into an empty net.
Performances like this are what MLS fans have gotten used to seeing from Zardes. He’s done it time and time again, which is what makes him one of the best forwards in the league. Chicago could not stop him, which is what ultimately led to the Crew picking up all three points.