Ayo Akinola scored the lone goal of the match for Toronto with a rebound finish early in the second half, but Zardes' 21st-minute tally wound up standing as the game-winner, moving the Crew to 3-2-2 and 11 points through seven matches.
Columbus opened the scoring in the 12th minute, as Diaz got loose on a breakaway following a Toronto corner kick where the Reds didn't leave any defenders back. That allowed Pedro Santos to set Diaz up with a feed for a solo run all the way to the other end into a one-on-one with Toronto goalkeeper Alex Bono, which the Costa Rican capped off by coolly slotting the finish into the back of the net.
Zardes then added the second eight minutes later, just after he'd had a goal waved off for offside. The US international got on the end of a cross from Santos and managed to redirect it with a bouncing finish over Bono to put the hosts up 2-0.
Toronto would pull one back, as Akinola got the visitors on the board in the 52nd minute with a rebound finish that the 20-year-old homegrown cashed home after Richie Laryea had his initial shot saved by Eloy Room. Toronto had one last-gasp attempt at an equalizer in the waning moments of second-half stoppage time when Michael Bradley teed up a shot from the top of the area, but Room came through with a diving denial and the Crew saw out the 2-1 final.
- THE BIG PICTURE: This one looked like it could turn into a rout after the Crew shot out to the early lead, but it turned into anyone's game after Akinola's goal, and Caleb Porter's group did well to ensure they maintained all three points. Columbus still have yet to hit the form we know they're capable of in 2021, but they've now won two straight, giving them some positive vibes heading into the June international break. Toronto, meanwhile, continue to reel as this defeat leaves them at 1-4-2 and still stuck on five points, while questions about the future of Jozy Altidore with the club still loom large.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Zardes' goal was the game-winning tally, and it was also a milestone moment for the veteran forward, as it marked his 50th career goal with the Crew across all competitions since his 2018 arrival.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Playing in an unfamiliar position at left back, it was Pedro Santos who played a key role in setting up both goals. The 33-year-old gets the honors for the pair of assists.