Gyasi Zardes - 10.28.18 - Minnesota United

2018 Season Rewind | For Zardes, a career night caps off a record-setting season

His first goal of the night marked a personal regular-season career high.

His second? His fourth two-game game at home in 2018, again a personal single-season high.

And not to be stopped with a decisive performance – both personally and as a team – Columbus Crew SC forward Gyasi Zardes tallied his third for his first professional career hat trick to seal a berth into the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs on, of all matchdays, Decision Day.

Zardes was one of 13 players in MLS to record a hat trick in the regular season, and it started in the 11th minute. Following a short corner from Federico Higuaín, defender Milton Valenzuela, free from pressure turned toward goal and curled a back-post cross to Zardes for the opening header.

Up 1-0 after the break, Zardes struck again – this time on a miscue – in the 49th minute. Using a free kick opportunity from 35 yards out, Higuaín took advantage of the wet pitch to lift the ball over the opposing two-man wall and skid it on-frame, as Minnesota’s goalkeeper mistimed his read and allowed Zardes to clean up the mishandle from close range.

Tied 2-2 in the 83rd minute, the popular connection between Niko Hansen and Zardes again came to fruition, with Hansen finding himself open near the end line after a through pass from Harrison Afful.

With lanes open directly in front of goal and at the penalty spot, Hansen fired it in at the front post as Zardes beat his man for the redirection goal and the hat trick.

The 3-2 victory clinched the fifth seed for Columbus, as well as Crew SC’s fourth postseason berth in the last five seasons.

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