Two games in to 2019 the Columbus Crew remain unbeaten in MLS play. A relatively boring 1-1 draw against NYRB in the home opener was masked by the great celebrations around Mapfre and by Crew fans everywhere as our team, that wasn’t supposed to exist anymore, was playing again.
This feeling of euphoria was encapsulated by the CCSC equaliser in the 41st minute. Symbolic in many ways, this goal sparked celebrations around Columbus as Gaston Sauro scored off a flick on at the near post. It was Sauro’s first ever goal for Columbus.
After being picked up by the Crew in 2015, Sauro suffered a devastating knee injury that kept him sidelined for two years, with many doctors believing that he would never step foot on the pitch again. Thus, the player who was never supposed to play again, scored a goal for the team that was never supposed to play again, on a day that was never supposed to happen. Surely a page straight out of an upcoming Nicholas Sparks novel.
The Crew then went on the road to face the New England Revolution the following Saturday. A much better performance from the Black and Gold resulted in a 2-0 win, Gyasi Zardes bagging a brace and Zack Steffen saving a penalty. Proving that not too much has changed on the field in Columbus. Zardes scoring twice is a positive sign for CCSC after his big year last year. Columbus will rely heavily on him once again in 2019.
Another positive sign was the production and performance of Pedro Santo. Having been criticised in 2018 for a lack of production, Santos delivered a curling, perfectly weighted pass to Gyasi Zardes for the first Santos assist of 2019. Santos has been in good form in the beginning of 2019 and will look to continue to be productive for CCSC the rest of the way.
The Black and Gold return to Mapfre this coming Saturday to face FC Dallas, one of the best looking sides in MLS in the early stages of their 2019 campaign. Following a tie on the opening weekend, FCD went on to soundly defeat the LA Galaxy. Saturday will provide an early season test for CCSC at home. Two of the teams that have certainly passed the “eye test” so far in 2019, will be looking to cement themselves at the top of the league early on in the season.
I would expect a very tactically interesting match up at Mapfre this weekend. Both sides seem to have strong tactical plans in place and will look to impose their will on the other. Whichever side can dominate possession in the attacking third of the field, will likely have the edge on Saturday. If you are looking for a match that will have endless amounts of attacking play and drama, I’d advise you to look elsewhere.
I would argue that this match is more important for Columbus than their counterparts from Dallas. Winning at home will be a must for CCSC in 2019. Having dropped points in their home opener, The Crew will look to establish winning ways in Columbus early on in 2019 and Saturday provides them with an excellent chance to do so.
As always, Glory to Columbus.
Written by Adam Miller – @TheAdamMiller01