Columbus Crew SC began a bang-bang week with a 1-0 victory over Philadelphia Union on Wednesday night. In a three-games, eight-day turnaround, the Black & Gold’s starting XI featured an average age of just 23.8 years, the youngest for Crew SC this season.
2018 MLS SuperDraft selection Luis Argudo contributed to the young line-up, making his first Major League Soccer and Crew SC start. The 22-year-old also opened the match with the kickoff and thus the first touch of the game.
The first half produced a frenzy of free and corner kicks from both sides but ultimately remained scoreless. A quick free kick from the Union in the 22nd minute had goalkeeper Zack Steffen show his athleticism with a diving save. In the 41st minute, defender Harrison Afful created the best chance for Columbus but was denied by the post.
Columbus opened the second half with a goal from Gyasi Zardes. Zardes took advantage of a Martinez cross that took a deflection and tapped in the game-winning goal — his sixth of the season and 40th of his career.
Columbus outshot Philadelphia 16 to 5, with four shots on-target. Columbus had 505 total passes, out-passing the Union 86 percent. Crew SC has scored in each of its six home games this season and Steffen recorded his first home shutout of 2018, with four total.
Crew SC returns to MAPFRE Stadium for Pups at the Pitch on Saturday, May 9. The Black & Gold will kickoff against the Chicago Fire at 7:30 p.m. ET.
- Forward Gyasi Zardes scored the game-winning goal in the 53rd minute of tonight’s match against the Philadelphia Union. The goal came when the forward tapped in a rebound off of the Philadelphia goalkeeper’s deflection. The strike marks Zardes’ sixth goal of the season and 40th regular-season tally of his career. This season, Zardes has started in all 11 matches for Crew SC, and has made 142 regular-season appearances (127 starts) in his MLS career since joining the League in 2013.
- Tonight’s starting lineup for Crew SC had an average age of 23.8, the youngest average age for a Black & Gold starting lineup thus far in the 2018 MLS regular season. The previous youngest average age for a Crew SC starting lineup this season was 25.18, which was the average age of the lineup used in a road contest against Toronto FC (March 3) and in a home match against the Montreal Impact (March 10).
- Luis Argudo made his first start of the 2018 MLS regular season in tonight’s match against the Philadelphia Union. Argudo played 81 minutes, made 53 touches, 30 passes and took two shots. In addition, Argudo created a team-high four scoring chances during his time on the field. Prior to today’s start, Argudo had made four regular-season appearances for the Black & Gold in this, his first season in MLS.
- Mike Grella made his 75th regular-season appearance in his career in tonight’s match against the Philadelphia Union after coming on as a substitute for Luis Argudo in the 81st minute. He had missed the start of the season due to a left knee injury, but returned in a home match on April 28th to score the game-winning goal in the 84th minute to beat the San Jose Earthquakes. He joined the Black & Gold after three seasons with the New York Red Bulls where he made 73 appearances (61 starts) and accumulated 17 goals and 13 assists in the regular season since 2015. Today, Grella played nine minutes.
- With Gyasi Zardes’ goal, Crew SC extends its streak of home goals in consecutive matches this season to six matches. Beginning with their 3-2 victory against the Montreal Impact (March 10), the Black & Gold have scored 12 goals across six home matches while only allowing eight goals by their opponents. During this six-match goal-scoring streak at home, Crew SC holds a record of 4-1-1 at MAPFRE Stadium.
- Goalkeeper Zack Steffen recorded a clean sheet in tonight’s 1-0 home victory over the Philadelphia Union. With the 1-0 victory, Steffen made three saves to register his fourth shutout of the year, and his 13th shutout in MLS regular-season action. Additionally, this is Steffen’s second consecutive clean sheet against the Union, as he also recorded a shutout earlier this year when the two clubs met at Talen Energy Stadium on March 17 in a 0-0 draw. With the clean sheet, Steffen extended his lead as the goalkeeper with the most regular-season shutouts against the Union, with three.
- With tonight’s 1-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union, Crew SC registered its second consecutive shutout on the 2018 MLS regular season, having allowed zero goals in last week’s road contest against Seattle on Saturday, May 5. Additionally, of Crew SC’s four shutouts this season, this is the first clean sheet the Black & Gold have registered at MAPFRE Stadium in 2018.
- With tonight’s 1-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union, Crew SC’s record on the season improves to 5-3-3. Next up, Crew SC takes on the Chicago Fire at MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday, May 12 (7:30 p.m. ET / CW Columbus, Spectrum Sports, BCSN2, CD102.5 FM, English and Spanish audio broadcasts available on ColumbusCrewSC.com).