Columbus Crew SC 3, Minnesota United 2 | 2018 MLS Match Recap
The night got off to a soggy start in Columbus, Ohio when referee Robert Sibiga whistled for a stop in play in the 10th minute due to inclement weather. The clubs waited for 67 minutes while the storm dissipated and the other MLS Decision Day games continued. After just one shot from either side in the starting ten minutes, forward Zardes broke through a minute into the restart with a set-piece goal off of a Columbus corner.
Both sides battled to keep the score 1-0 going into half time, but ended the half with a nerve-wracking collision. Minnesota forward Angelo Rodriguez's knee collided with the head of Crew SC goalkeeper Zack Steffen. Rodriguez was eventually substituted off the pitch while Steffen played the remainder of the match with a welt above his eye.
Just before halftime Columbus learned that the New England Revolution defeated Montreal Impact 1-0, which meant Crew SC finally clinched the final playoff spot. Zardes again came in hot on the restart for Crew SC, scoring the opening goal of the second half. With the win, Columbus secured the fifth seed in the East and travel to Washington, D.C. to face D.C. United in the Knockout Round.
But it wasn't an easy road.
Minnesota defender Francisco Calvo put the heat on Columbus with two goals in less than 10 minutes. Columbus responded with a final goal from Zardes in the 83rd minute to close the game. Zardes completed his regular-season resurgence with Columbus by lifting himself into third among most single-season goal scorers in Crew SC history.
- 11' – CLB – Gyasi Zardes | WATCH
- 49' – CLB – Gyasi Zardes | WATCH
- 68' – MIN – Francisco Calvo | WATCH
- 77' – MIN – Francisco Calvo | WATCH
- 83' – CLB – Gyasi Zardes | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: Columbus did not qualify for the postseason until midway through the first half of Sunday's game against Minnesota. Due to the rain delay, Crew SC learned it clinched the final playoff spot before halftime. With the grind-out win, Columbus now travels to Audi Field to face a D.C. United side that has not lost in the last 10 games. Crew SC and United headed in opposite directions in the final furlong of the regular season. Going to United will not be an easy start to Columbus' playoff run, but then again, Columbus took down a red-hot Atlanta United in last year's Knockout Round.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: The final goal from Zardes secured Columbus as the fifth seed in the East and completed the career refresh for Zardes.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Zardes willed Columbus above Philadelphia Union in the East. He capitalized on two set pieces and finished a late cross from Niko Hansen in the 83rd minute to score a hat trick and top his previous personal record of 16 goals in a season.