Fall 2021 SS Magazine

Christ-follower Gyasi Zardes scores twice as Columbus resumes MLS play

Gyasi Zardes’s first appearance at the MLS Is Back Tournament was certainly a memorable one.

The Columbus Crew forward notched two goals, one in the 30th minute and one in the 49th, to propel his team to a 4-0 victory over inter-state rival FC Cincinnati on Saturday night.

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The MLS Is Back Tournament marks the league’s return to action after being delayed since March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which hit after each MLS team had played only two games. The group stage matches will count toward the 2020 regular-season standings and will be followed by knockout rounds. The entire tournament is being held without fans at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World near Orlando, Fla.

With Saturday’s win, Columbus has now moved to 2-0-1 in the 2020 MLS season. Zardes’ two goals gave his team some separation over Cincinnati and ensured it would remain tied with New York at seven points atop the MLS’s Eastern Conference. In post-game comments posted on the Columbus Crew official website, Zardes discussed how important it was to secure a win in their first action in Orlando.

“It was a great feeling just to get back on the field,” he said. “… Also, I kind of felt like it was a season opener because it’s a new tournament that we’re participating in and it’s extremely important to get off on the right foot.”

Zardes, who was featured on the Sports Spectrum Podcast in October 2018, said he seeks to use his social media platform as a star athlete to redirect praise to God.

“God has blessed me with all these opportunities, so there’s no better way to use my platform to allow everyone to know and see who I’m giving the glory to,” Zardes said on the podcast. “It’s not me, it’s God.”

Later, he added: “I just try to redirect all that attention, fame to God because my viewpoint is, I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for God. I firmly believe that.”

Columbus’s next match in Group E play will come on Thursday against the New York Red Bulls in a battle for first place in the Eastern Conference.

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