RECAP | Higuain, Zardes shine in victory over Chicago

Columbus Crew SC made easy work on Saturday night, defeating the Chicago Fire 3-0 at MAPFRE Stadium. Despite denting an uncooperative goal post on multiple occasions, the home team surged to its fifth consecutive match without a loss and third consecutive shutout.

Midfielder Federico Higuain opened the scoring in the 28th minute. Forward Gyasi Zardes was fouled inside the box by Chicago’s Kevin Ellis, leading to Higuain's club-record 18th penalty kick conversion.

Zardes climbed into the pole position in the early Golden Boot race, scoring his seventh and eighth goals of the season. Niko Hansen drove the ball up the right side to the net, passing to Zardes at the last moment for a tap-in goal. 

In the 70th minute, Zardes struck for the second time on a cross from Ricardo Clark. The ball dummied through the legs of Mike Grella to Zardes, who swiftly found the back of the net. Zardes has three goals in the past two games. 

Columbus out-possessed Chicago 55.3 percent. Goalkeeper Zack Steffen recorded his fifth shutout of the season as Columbus continues a five game unbeaten streak.

Next up, Crew SC travels to Gillette Stadium to take on the New England Revolution on Saturday May 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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TEAM NOTES

  • Midfielder Federico Higuain scored a penalty kick goal in the 28th minute of tonight’s match against the Chicago Fire. The goal was the 18th penalty kick goal of his MLS career, and second of the 2018 MLS regular season. Higuain leads Crew SC in all-time regular-season penalty kick goals, ahead of Guillermo Barros Schelotto (13). This season, Higuain has scored three goals and provided four assists in 12 regular-season appearances (11 starts). Since joining the Black & Gold in 2012, the Argentine has made 161 appearances (155 starts), and has become one of 18 players in MLS history to reach the 50-50 club, having tallied 51 goals and 53 assists.
     
  • Forward Gyasi Zardes recorded a brace in tonight’s match against the Chicago Fire. The American forward scored his first goal in the 50th minute off of a cross from Niko Hansen, and he scored his second goal in the 70th minute from a strike outside of the penalty box on assists from Ricardo Clark and Hector Jimenez. The scores mark Zardes’ seventh and eighth goals of the season and 41st and 42nd of his career. This season, Zardes has started in all 12 matches for Crew SC, and made 143 regular-season appearance (128 starts) in his MLS career.
     
  • Niko Hansen recorded his first regular-season assist of 2018 in tonight's home match against the Chicago Fire. Hansen came into the match for Pedro Santos in the 10th minute and provided the assist in the 50th minute, when he crossed the ball to Gyasi Zardes, who scored Crew SC's second goal of the match. In addition to his assist, Hansen registered 46 touches, made 26 passes and made three tackles. In 2018, Hansen has made seven regular-season appearances (three starts). Since joining the Black & Gold in 2017, Hansen has made 21 regular-season appearances (seven starts), tallying one goal and three assists.
     
  • Ricardo Clark and Hector Jimenez recorded their first assists of the season on Gyasi Zardes’ 70th-minute goal to put Crew SC up 3-0. Clark joined Crew SC this year and has previously provided a game-winning goal: against D.C. United on March 24th in MAPFRE Stadium. Over the course of his 14-year MLS career, Clark has made 342 appearance (320 starts), scored 36 goals and provided 28 assists. Jimenez has made 138 appearance (91 starts), scored five goals and tallied 20 assists in his eight-year career.
     
  • Mike Grella made his first start of the 2018 MLS regular season in tonight’s match against the Chicago Fire. Grella played 73 minutes, made 48 touches and completed 32 passes at an 81.1% clip. Prior to today’s start, Grella had made two regular-season appearances for the Black & Gold in this, his first season with the club. In his first appearance this season, Grella came in as a substitute and scored the game-winning goal in the 84th minute of a home match against the San Jose Earthquakes (April 28).
     
  • With Federico Higuain’s penalty-kick goal and Gyasi Zardes’ brace, Crew SC extends its regular-season goal-scoring streak to 14 consecutive matches, dating back to a 1-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union on July 22, 2017. Over that span, the Black & Gold have compiled a regular-season winning record of 11-1-2 at home, outscoring opponents 29-13. In 2018, Crew SC has a regular-season home record of 5-1-1 while outscoring opponents 17-8.
     
  • With tonight’s 3-0 victory over the Chicago Fire, Crew SC extends their regular-season unbeaten streak to five games, dating back to a 2-2 draw on April 21st against the New England Revolution. Since then, Crew SC has posted a record of 3-0-2, outscoring their opponents by a score of 8-3.
     
  • Goalkeeper Zack Steffen recorded a clean sheet in tonight’s 3-0 home victory over the Chicago Fire. With the 3-0 victory, Steffen made a season-high four saves to register his fifth shutout of the year, and his 14th shutout in MLS regular-season action. Additionally, this is Steffen’s third consecutive clean sheet in the 2018 MLS regular season, all coming in the last eight days, as he allowed zero goals in a road match against Seattle Sounders FC (May 5) and in a home match against the Philadelphia Union (May 9) before tonight.
     
  • With tonight’s 3-0 victory over the Chicago Fire, Crew SC registered its third consecutive shutout on the 2018 MLS regular season, having allowed zero goals in a road match against Seattle Sounders FC and in a home match against the Philadelphia Union over the last week.  Additionally, of Crew SC’s five shutouts this season, this is the second consecutive clean sheet the Black & Gold have registered at MAPFRE Stadium in 2018.
     
  • With tonight’s 3-0 victory over the Chicago Fire, Crew SC’s record on the season improves to 6-3-3. Next up, Crew SC will take on the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on Saturday, May 19 (7:30 p.m. ET / CW Columbus, Spectrum Sports, BCSN2, CD102.5 FM, English and Spanish audio broadcasts available on ColumbusCrewSC.com). 
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