Gyasi Zardes's run of form helps Columbus Crew extend league lead: "He's playing as well as I've ever seen him"

Gyasi Zardes thumbs up - Columbus Crew - September 19, 2020

Columbus Crew SC extended their lead atop the Eastern Conference to seven points with a 2-0 win over Nashville SC, the team's fifth match in a row unbeaten and its fifth straight home victory.

That streak has been intertwined with the form of forward Gyasi Zardes, who assisted the Crew's first against Nashville and scored the second. That goal was his ninth of the 2020 MLS season and his fourth in three games, marking a career highlight as his 75th MLS goal.

"He’s really in great form right now," Crew head coach Caleb Porter said following the match. "I tell him every day because in training he’s playing as well as I’ve ever seen him play and he has a lot of confidence."

Zardes's confidence was on full display when he scored in stoppage time against the expansion team, displaying some skill in the process. On a night he had three shots, he scored on his final one by getting himself into a position right in front of the goal and then scoring with the back of his foot after receiving the ball from Artur. Porter attributes Zardes's current confidence to variety.

"I think he’s doing different things than he’s ever done and he’s showing to be more complete in his hold-up play, in his movement in different ways," Porter said. "He’s always going to be good in the box, that’s his greatest strength."

Porter also praised Zardes's partnership with Pedro Santos, on full display when Zardes made a run on the left side of the field before passing to Santos, who finished from the edge of the penalty area for the Crew's opener.

Porter said that type of form from his forwards is essential to the team's success. It was not the greatest of finishing performances for the Crew, as they ended the match with only two shots on target. But Zardes and Santos bailed Columbus out of a match where creating quality chances was something both teams struggled with; Nashville also had two shots on goal, out of a total 15.

"Right now, if you’re a good team, you need your striker to score goals," Porter said. "You need your No. 10 and today, Pedro was the No. 10 and Gyasi was the striker and those guys chipped in goals and that’s what we need out of them. It’s great to see.

"It’s great that [Zardes is] chipping in goals every single game. We need that out of him."