Much-maligned Gyasi Zardes is in the best form of his career for first-place Crew SC

Gyasi Zardes is one of the most-maligned strikers in the history of American soccer.

But he has been a big part of the Columbus Crew's success in 2020, leading MLS's top team with nine goals and three assists in 12 games.

"He’s really in great form right now," Crew head coach Caleb Porter said after Zardes had a goal and an assist in the 2-0 win over Nashville SC on Saturday. "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."

Often criticized for his poor first touch, Zardes scored a career-high five goals for the USA in 2019 as Jozy Altidore and Josh Sargent were often unavailable.

His reputation has suffered for the fluky goals he has scored with the national team.

He scored with shot from about 25 yards deflected off a defender to give the USA a 1-0 win over Ecuador in March 2019, the lone win over a non-Concacaf team in the first 19 games under Gregg Berhalter.

In the opening game of the 2019 Gold Cup, he grimaced in pain after a cross from Paul Arriola was deflected by a Guyana defender off his face and into the goal.

But there was nothing fluky about the goal he scored to clinch the win over Nashville SC. He took a pass from Artur and dragged the ball with a flick of his heel into the far corner of the goal.

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

Porter praised Zardes for his work to improve his game, which has produced 41 goals in 73 games since he joined the Crew from the LA Galaxy for the 2018 season.

“Any top striker I’ve been around," Porter said on Monday, "there’s no coincidence why they’re good at scoring goals. They spend a lot of time working on it, that’s no different with Gyasi."

6 comments about "Much-maligned Gyasi Zardes is in the best form of his career for first-place Crew SC".
  1. Bob Ashpole, September 22, 2020 at 10:46 a.m.

    It is better to think that many like I lament that we don't have a better alternative to Zardes--yet. He always plays his heart out. No one could ask more of him. His first touch is poor compared to other international strikers. It is a fact, not malignment. And a hope of improvement in the future of the MNT. 

  2. Seth Vieux replied, September 22, 2020 at 10:55 p.m.

    Agreed Bob, I genuinely like him as he's clearly an extremely hard working player with a great attitude and many other qualities to value. But his first touch isn't poor just by international standards, it's a glaring issue at any level of play beyond American highschool. Does he compensate for it through his physical abilities and work ethic? Yes at up to an MLS level, but there's a reason that's his ceiling from a club perspective, and as the USMNT (hopefully) transitions to a squad capable of playing a far more technical style he's going to stick out as a player lacking the overall quality required. I think he's proven worthy of being in the squad to date, and unfortunately it doesn't look like Josh Sargeant is beating down the door as a striker with the quality required either. I'm intently watching Tim Weah's comeback from injury, even more so with Lille playing him as a striker rather than winger.

  3. David Ruder, September 22, 2020 at 11:42 a.m.

    I always liked Zardes, but the goals he scored against the Chicago Fire were caused by  very poor defensive work by Chicago.

  4. Gordon Holt, September 22, 2020 at 1:06 p.m.

    Might it have a little something to do with Mr. Porter....

  5. humble 1, September 23, 2020 at 1:44 p.m.

    Since I listened to an interview with Zardes years ago - I appreciate the player - and am not surprised.  He eschewed humility and willingness to work at his game in the diaglogue.  Whether or not he is an international level striker, well, let's just say, USA has NEVER produced one - systematically - and with the youth love of 4-3-3 and Pep's game, likely will not for a long time - so - we must take those that come along out of our broken striker production line and just say - well done - and - keep it going Gyasi! 

  6. frank schoon replied, September 24, 2020 at 9:10 a.m.

    Humble,You're right we have never produced international strikers systematically but that is not due to the 4-3-3 for Holland has produced always great international strikers and 4-3-3 is the system of choice in Holland...
    Zardes is a good guy who knows he has limitations and has the right attitude about it and therefore he works hard and I wish him the best...

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