Simply put, few players – if any – have been more influential at home this season than Gyasi Zardes at MAPFRE Stadium.
Riding a five-match home winning streak into Saturday, Columbus Crew SC has posted the best home record in Major League Soccer over the last two seasons at 22-5-5, including a 10-2-3 mark in 2018, and Zardes has had a say in nearly every one of those home bouts since joining the Club.
“Well I’m always confident, no matter where we play, no matter who we play,” Zardes said. “I’m always confident, even if the other team goes up one goal, I’m always confident we can get ourselves back into the game.”
In concordance with Zardes’ sentiments, the setting hasn’t necessarily mattered, but at MAPFRE Stadium – the site of this weekend’s showdown against a nipping Philadelphia squad – Zardes has shown to be a constant and efficient threat.
Of League players with at least 20 shots on target at home, Zardes’ 33-percent conversion rate (goals scored divided by total shots attempted) ranks first in MLS, above the likes of Atlanta’s Josef Martinez, the New York Red Bull’s Bradley Wright-Phillips, and the Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
In all, Zardes’ 14 home goals rank second only to Martinez’s 16, while his three braces stand tied for first League-wide with Ibrahimovic. In the 10 home games in which Gyasi has scored, Columbus has left the stadium with a combined 24 points, going 7-1-3.
According to Zardes, home field advantage can be as intricate as understanding the lay of the grass and the overall feel of the dimensions.
“I think it’s our field," Zardes said about Crew SC's prowess at home.
"Obviously, home field advantage plays a huge factor but we know our field inside out. When we play our opponent on that particular field we know how to exploit them, as opposed to going to a place like New York City where its a smaller field or playing in Portland where it’s turf. So I think that contributes to a lot of our success.”
By nature, it’s no surprise that when a player scores, more often than not, the team will come out with a result. What is intriguing, however, is the sticktoitiveness Zardes & Co. have shown in late-game situations and the success they’ve had in feeding their striker in clutch situations.
Of Zardes’ 14 tallies at home, seven have come in the 50th minute or later, while three have come in the 88th minute or later to win or level the score. Notably, all three of his late-game goals have resulted in Crew SC victories.
Additionally, Columbus' ability to consistently and accurately find Zardes in the box has been key, as 15 of his 16 total goals have come from within the 18-yard-box, while as a team, Crew SC ranks first in corners (193) and successful corners & crosses (174), and second in successful corners into the box (59) and open crossing accuracy (26.51 percent).
Heading into the weekend, Zardes has scored in four of the last five home games, and according to the law of averages – which we will not dispute – the striker is due for another tally against Philadelphia, as he currently averages one home score every 96 minutes.