Columbus Crew SC advanced in the 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, bringing Nashville SC's Cinderella run to an end with a 2-0 extra-time victory at MAPFRE Stadium.
The victory sends the Crew through to the Eastern Conference Final for the second time in the last four seasons, as the Black & Gold will host the New England Revolution, who won their Semifinals match against Orlando City SC 3-1 earlier on Sunday.
The match will take place on Sunday, Dec. 6 at 3 p.m. ET at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. The match will be broadcast on ABC and ESPN Deportes, as well as on the radio at 97.1 FM The Fan (English) and www.ColumbusCrewSC.com (Spanish).
After a hard-fought 90 minutes that saw neither side able to find the scoresheet, Pedro Santos scored the go-ahead goal for Columbus in the ninth minute of extra time, with Gyasi Zardes providing some insurance thanks to a goal of his own in the 103rd minute.
Columbus showcased better play out of the gate, but it was Nashville that got closest to scoring in the first half after a pair of set-piece looks that missed the opener by a matter of inches.
The first came from Jhonder Cadiz in the 24th minute, as the Designated Player forward skied in the box and headed down a pinpoint corner kick from Daniel Lovitz, but Columbus goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell did well to get low and save the attempt just before it crossed the line.
Dax McCarty then had a look his own off another Lovitz corner kick three minutes later, this time beating Tarbell with a snapped header, only to be denied by the woodwork.
The match would stay scoreless into the second half, with Zardes coming closest to finding a breakthrough in regulation in the 78th minute with a point-blank look off a low cross from Luis Diaz. But Nashville 'keeper Joe Willis made a huge reaction save to preserve the scoreless deadlock.
The contest would be forced into extra time, where the Crew finally got the decisive goal after Zardes got free on a breakaway down the left side and found Santos in front of goal, allowing the Portuguese winger to slot home the finish.
GOAL | Santos scores in second-straight playoff match
Zardes then added the dagger just four minutes later on another breakaway opportunity, this time finishing the shot himself to seal off the 2-0 final and send the Crew through.
GOAL | Zardes continues scoring streak
Applicable ticket updates about this match as well as a potential MLS Cup match at MAPFRE Stadium will be communicated at a later date.
By Crew SC Communications
- Pedro Santos scored the game-winning goal for Crew SC in tonight’s match against Nashville SC. The midfielder’s goal came in the 99th minute of the match to put the Crew ahead during extra time. Notably, Santos has now scored in consecutive postseason matches with his first goal coming during last week’s 3-2 victory against the New York Red Bulls (November 21) via penalty kick.
- With his goal in tonight’s match, Gyasi Zardes has now scored in each of Crew SC’s last three MLS Cup Playoffs home matches. Zardes’ goal came in the 103rd minute of extra time, when he received a through-ball pass from Luis Diaz and followed through the net. The forward opened his postseason account with the Black & Gold in a 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals match against the New York Red Bulls (November 21), scoring the game-winning goal. Zardes also tallied against the Red Bulls in last Saturday’s Round One match, once again scoring the game-winner. In addition to his goal, Zardes set up Santos’ 99th-minute goal. Since joining Crew SC ahead of the 2018 season the forward has made five postseason appearances (all starts), registering three goals and one assist.
- Midfielder Lucas Zelarayan provided an assist on both goals for Crew SC tonight, bringing his total to three assists in Crew SC’s last two matches. Zelarayan had previously provided an assist in last weekend’s 3-2 win over the New York Red Bulls (November 29). Notably, the Black & Gold are 5-0-0 across all competitions when Zelarayan tallies a helper.
- Midfielder Luis Diaz provided an assist in tonight’s match at home against Nashville SC. Diaz’s helper setup Gyasi Zardes’ 103rd-minute goal, marking the midfielder’s first postseason assist.
- Goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell earned his first shutout in MLS Cup Playoffs action in tonight’s match against Nashville SC. Tarbell made four saves en route to helping the Crew keep a clean sheet, also marking his first postseason win in his five seasons in the League.
- With the 2-0 victory in tonight’s match against Nashville SC, Crew SC advances to its eighth Eastern Conference Semifinals in the history of the Club dating back to the 1997 season. The Crew most recently played in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2017.
- Up next, Crew SC is set to host the New England Revolution at MAPFRE Stadium in the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday, December 6 at 3:00 p.m. ET. The match will be nationally televised on ABC and ESPN Deportes.