No striker ever earned their keep with their preseason form, but just maybe Columbus Crew SC have bought low in acquiring Gyasi Zardes.
The new arrival from the LA Galaxy hit a first-half brace in the early morning hours Friday East Coast time as Columbus played J-League side Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo to open the Pacific Rim Cup.
13' G⚽️AL!— Columbus Crew SC (@ColumbusCrewSC) February 9, 2018
What a start for #CrewSC and @gyasinho!
1-0 | #CrewSCpic.twitter.com/4jZ9L0iH8n
After giving Columbus the lead early on a neat finish in the 13th minute, Zardes stepped up to convert a penalty that had Crew SC back in front six minutes before halftime. Sapporo would end up winning the encounter 3-2.
Zardes scored only twice during a miserable 2017 campaign with LA. But at age 26, he's still young enough to theoretically regain the form that saw him score 16 league goals during the run to the the Galaxy's 2014 MLS Cup crown.
Step up ➡️ smash it!— Columbus Crew SC (@ColumbusCrewSC) February 9, 2018
Make that a brace for @gyasinho 👆😀👆!#CrewSC | #PacificRimCuppic.twitter.com/8OwmGkgZdJ
That was enough to convince Crew SC coach and technical director Gregg Berhalter to make a swap for the California native once it became clear striker Ola Kamara wanted to move on from Columbus.
And if Zardes can produce at anywhere close to his rate of three years ago, it may well be a steal for Crew SC, who also received at least $400,000 in allocation money when they sent Kamara to LA.