Nashville SC is not one of the best teams in Major League Soccer at this point. Columbus Crew SC® very much is. However, there was little to separate the teams at MAPFRE Stadium Saturday evening, with a goal by Pedro Santos putting the hosts ahead before a beautiful stoppage-time capper from Gyasi Zardes spoiled any hopes of a comeback.
Columbus, which entered the game having scored 18 goals and allowed just four in 12 total games, improved both its offensive and defensive output in a game that was touch-and-go until the final moments.
Nashville’s issues on the offensive end once again reared their ugly head. The Boys in Gold didn’t necessarily struggle to generate chances with 15 total shots, but managed to put only two of those on-target. The best opportunities of the evening – a hit from just inside the penalty area by Aníbal Godoy after a set piece spilled the ball to him, and then a sliding attempt from Alex Muyl on the counter-attack – were blocked off the line, and a relatively simple save for Columbus keeper Eloy Room, respectively.
Columbus didn’t generate a plethora of golden opportunities, but made its chances count. Each of the team’s shots on goal – a left-footed curler from the top of the box on the break out of Pedro Santos (after a turnover by Nashville centerback Walker Zimmerman), and a back-heeled dribbler from striker Gyasi Zardes in stoppage time – each found twine in its own way, and the league-leading Crew extended its advantage in the league table, while Nashville SC treads water on the cusp of playoff position in the Eastern Conference.
The Boys in Gold have their next opportunity to improve that position in the mid-week, hosting DC United in Nissan Stadium Wednesday evening.
- 26′ CLB Yellow card – 26 Fatai Alashe (foul)
- 27′ CLB Yellow card – 7 Pedro Santos (foul)
- 37′ NSH Yellow card – 2 Dan Lovitz (foul)
- 45’+2 Half time
- 50′ CLB GOAL – 7 Pedro Santos (left foot), assisted by 11 Gyasi Zardes (left-footed ground cross from top of penalty area)
- 57′ CLB Yellow card – 30 Aboubacar Keita (foul)
- 63′ NSH Substitution – On 14 Daniel Ríos, off 19 Alan Winn
- 70′ CLB Substitution – On 10 Lucas Zelarayán, off 34 Youness Mokhtar
- 71′ NSH Yellow card – 29 Alex Muyl (foul)
- 76′ NSH Yellow card – 20 Aníbal Godoy (foul)
- 76′ CLB Substitution – On 22 Derrick Etienne Jr., off 12 Luis Díaz
- 78′ NSH Substitutions:
- On 23 Taylor Washington, off 29 Alex Muyl
- On 21 Derrick Jones, off 20 Aníbal Godoy
- 90’+1 CLB Substitution – On 16 Hector Jimén
- 90’+3 CLB GOAL – 11 Gyasi Zardes (right foot, backheel), assisted by 8 Artur (square across goal)
- 90’+6 Full time
Joe Willis photo by Sierra Swenson/Nashville SC