Gyasi Zardes - Columbus Crew SC - Celebrates a goal
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Sigi Schmid on Gyasi Zardes' hot start in Columbus: "I'm happy for him"

CARSON, Calif.—Gyasi Zardes has more goals in his first two games with Columbus Crew SC than he managed in 24 matches with the LA Galaxy last year, and Sigi Schmid is happy to see it.

The Southern California native netted the second goal from Pedro Santos' through ball in Columbus' 2-0 opening-day victory at reigning MLS Cup champion Toronto FC, then tallied twice -- on a rebound and a stoppage-time penalty kick -- in last weekend's 3-2 triumph over visiting Montreal.

“That's good. I'm happy for Gyasi,” Schmid said, following the Galaxy's Thursday morning training session at StubHub Center. “Sometimes a change of scenery is what everybody needs for themselves, and I think it's good.

“He's a good kid, he's always worked hard, and I think there's probably a reapplication that took place after the trade [to Columbus] happened, of 'OK, I want to show some people.'”

LA dealt Zardes to Columbus on the eve of the start of preseason camp in January for Norwegian striker Ola Kamara. Zardes had played primarily on the flanks for LA after scoring 16 regular-season goals next to Robbie Keane in 2014, when the Galaxy won their fifth MLS Cup title.

He became a regular with the US national team, also as a winger, in 2015, and he missed the start of last season after suffering a knee injury during the national team's January camp. He struggled to find his form all year and finished with just two goals, in back-to-back games last September.

Columbus coach Gregg Berhalter, who in 2011 began his professional coaching career as an assistant to then-LA coach Bruce Arena in his final season as a player, has positioned Zardes at striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation. All three goals have been strikers' goals, all one-touch -- his first against Montreal was from the doorstep after a defender deflected Artur's header from a Federico Higuain free kick -- and he's put all three of his shots on frame into the net.

“One of the goals is a PK and a couple of tap-in goals,” noted Schmid, who guided Crew SC to a MLS Cup-Supporters' Shield double a decade ago. “Columbus has played well, and his production is a combination and reflection of how the team's playing.”

Zardes last year said he thought his best spot was on the left flank, but he was a star striker in club soccer and in college at Cal State Bakersfield, and he blossomed up front under Keane's leadership in LA. He's scored 37 goals in 113 MLS regular-season games.

The Galaxy acquired Kamara, who scored 34 regular-season goals in two seasons for Columbus, after failing to find a consistent goalscorer last year, when the club finished at the bottom of the league. Schmid took charge, his second stint as head coach, in late July.

A couple of days after the trade, which was announced January 20, Schmid was asked if he thought Zardes needed new surroundings.

“If I could have kept Gyasi, I would have loved to have kept Gyasi,” he said. “I really admire his work ethic and his approach to the game, and I think he has a ton of good qualities. But sometimes you have to give something up to get something, so we had to do that.

“For Gyasi as well, it's an opportunity. I think Gregg's already come out and said he's going to play him at center forward. So we'll see how that goes for him, but I wish Gyasi luck. Their system is a little bit different, where it's based a little more on attacking through the flanks with speed and then getting service in the box, so he'll get his opportunities.”