Columbus Crew SC 3, Chicago Fire FC 0 | 2020 MLS Regular Season Match Recap
Both sides traded chances throughout the evening, but Columbus Crew SC wound up cruising to a 3-0 victory over Chicago Fire FC at MAPFRE Stadium on Thursday, courtesy of a first-half goal from Derrick Etienne Jr, a screamer from Darlington Nagbe and a late insurance tally from Gyasi Zardes.
After a back-and-forth start, Columbus found the opener in the 20th minute, when Milton Valenzuela found Etienne unmarked in the penalty box, allowing the midfielder to slot home a cheeky finish past Chicago goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth.
Chicago had a pair of near-misses in the first half, first at the end of a 17th-minute counterattack that ended with Przemyslaw Frankowski putting his shot just wide of the far post. Ignacio Aliseda also nearly found the equalizer with a deflected shot in the 35th minute that trickled wide.
The Crew had a golden opportunity to double the lead on the stroke of halftime when Luis Diaz made a charging run into the box and was brought down from behind by Miguel Navarro, drawing a penalty kick whistle from referee Guido Gonzales Jr. But Zardes would sky the attempt from the spot, keeping it 1-0.
The match stayed open into the second half, with Nagbe slamming the door in the 81st minute with an absolutely perfectly hit, highlight-reel golazo from distance past Shuttleworth, before Zardes added some late insurance with a tap-in finish in the 88th.
- 20' - CLB - Derrick Etienne Jr. | WATCH
- 81' - CLB - Darlington Nagbe | WATCH
- 88' - CLB - Gyasi Zardes | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: Columbus endured a disappointing exit from the MLS is Back Tournament after a torrid start, but they're now unbeaten in six straight matches in league play to start 2020 and look primed to remain a force in the Eastern Conference.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: It doesn't get much better than this from Nagbe. It isn't just an easy pick for the MLS Goal of the Week. It might be your Goal of the Year, which he also won in 2011 with a similar strike as a member of the Portland Timbers.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Nagbe's game isn't about scoring lots of goals, but we simply can't say enough about that finish from the longtime MLS stalwart, and he was also his usual rock-solid, tempo-dictating self in the midfield.