Columbus Crew SC ended a three-game, eight-day run with a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids at MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday night, led by midfielder Federico Higuain's game-winning strike and a notable scoring milestone from Gyasi Zardes as the Black & Gold claimed three points on Hispanic Heritage Night.
Columbus (13-9-8) opened up the scoring in the 17th minute when Zardes slipped through the backline into the penalty box following a deft pass from Higuain.
Zardes sent his shot right past Colorado goalkeeper Tim Howard for his 50th career regular-season goal in Major League Soccer and 16th of the 2018 season, tying a personal single-season career-high first established in 2014. On that play, Justin Meram recorded the secondary assist, marking his first helper since returning to Crew SC this summer.
Colorado responded, however, in the 26th minute on a free kick from Shkelzen Gashi to level the score at halftime.
At the beginning of the second half, Colorado defender Deklan Wynne was shown a straight red card, leaving the Rapids to play the rest of the match with 10 men. Shortly after, Higuain broke the second-half tie with his game-winning goal in the 57th minute. Milton Valenzuela lured Howard out of the goal to give Higuain the open rebound opportunity, as the Maestro sent an easy pass into the back of the net.
Columbus finished the final 30 minutes strong and handed the Rapids their fifth straight loss. Columbus completed 90 percent of its passing attempts and out-possessed Colorado by 55-45 margin. The Black & Gold finished the match with 10 shots on target compared to Colorado’s two.
Columbus stays at home next Saturday, Sept. 29 as it hosts the fifth-place Philadelphia Union at MAPFRE Stadium in a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff. Crew SC is currently four points ahead of Philadelphia as the two Eastern Conference teams battle with playoff implications on the line.
- Midfielder Federico Higuain provided an assist and scored the game-winning goal in tonight’s match against the Colorado Rapids. The last time he accomplished this feat was in a home match against Toronto FC on June 2. His assist came in the 17th minute, when he played a through ball to Gyasi Zardes, who then put the Black & Gold up 1-0. Higuain’s goal came in the 57th-minute as the Argentine reeled in a pass from Artur and sent the ball into the back of the net to give Crew SC a 2-1 lead. This season, Higuain has scored five goals and provided a team-high eight assists in 26 regular-season appearances (23 starts). Since joining the club in 2012, the Argentine has made 175 appearances (167 starts) and has become one of 18 players in MLS history to reach the at least 50 goals and 50 assists, having tallied 53 goals and 57 assists.
- Gyasi Zardes scored the opening goal for Crew SC in tonight’s match against the Colorado Rapids. The goal was his 50th career MLS regular-season goal, and in addition, he ties a career-high with 16 goals in a single regular season along with his 2014 MLS campaign with the LA Galaxy. The goal came in the 17th minute when Zardes received a pass from Federico Higuain and put the ball past Colorado keeper Tim Howard. Zardes joined the Black & Gold via a trade with the LA Galaxy prior to the beginning of the 2018 MLS regular season, and he has since scored 16 regular-season goals for Crew SC. Since making his MLS debut in 2013, Zardes has made 160 regular-season appearances (145 starts) registering 17 assists along with his 50 goals.
- Justin Meram provided an assist in tonight’s match against the Colorado Rapids. The helper is Meram’s first since he returned to Crew SC in 2018. Meram’s assist came on Gyasi Zardes’ 17th-minute goal when he found Federico Higuain at the top of the box, who then flicked the ball to Zardes for the finish. This season, Meram has made 23 regular-season appearances (18 starts) for Orlando City SC and Crew SC, tallying two goals and four assists. Since making his MLS debut in 2011, Meram has made 211 regular-season appearances (152 starts) – 194 appearances (137 starts) with Crew SC – registering 39 goals (38 with Crew SC) and 37 assists (34 with Crew SC).
- Ricardo Clark made his 350th MLS regular-season appearance in tonight’s match against the Colorado Rapids. Tonight, he made 28 touches and attempted 27 passes at 92.6% accuracy. This season, Clark has made 13 MLS regular-season appearances (8 starts) for Crew SC, tallying one goal and one assist. Since making his MLS debut in 2003, Clark has made 325 regular-season starts, notching 36 goals and 28 assists.
- With tonight’s start, Jonathan Mensah made his 50th MLS regular-season appearance. The Ghanaian defender made 54 touches and attempted 51 passes with 92.2% accuracy. This season, Mensah has made 24 regular-season appearances (23 starts) and scored one goal. Since joining Crew SC in 2017, Mensah has made 48 regular-season starts, scoring three goals and providing one assist.
- Milton Valenzuela made his 25th MLS regular-season start in tonight’s match against the Colorado Rapids. Tonight, the Argentine made 72 touches, attempted 56 passes and created three scoring chances. Milton Valenzuela joined Crew SC in 2018 as a young designated player from Newell’s Old Boys. Since making his Black & Gold debut earlier this season, Valenzuela has made 26 regular-season appearances, recording one goal and four assists.
- With tonight’s 2-1 win against the Colorado Rapids, Crew SC’s record on the season improves to 13-9-8. Next up, Crew SC will take on the Philadelphia Union at MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday, September 29 at 7:30 PM ET.