Gyasi Zardes scored twice to take over the Major League Soccer lead for goals and also drew a penalty as the Columbus Crew extended their unbeaten streak to five games with a 3-0 defeat of the visiting Chicago Fire at Mapfre Stadium on Saturday.
Zardes scored in the 50th and 70th minutes after Federico Higuain’s penalty kick gave the Crew (6-3-3) the lead in the 28th minute.
Zack Steffen made four saves and the Crew recorded their third straight shutout for the first time since having four in a row from March 26 to April 17, 2011.
Columbus is 3-0-2 since a three-game losing streak. The Fire are 3-5-2.
Higuain forcefully converted the penalty after defender Kevin Ellis pulled Zardes down by the back of his jersey. The goal was Higuain’s third of the season and 51st in his MLS career, of which 18 have been via penalties.
Zardes made it 2-0 with an easy tap-in. Niko Hansen — who came on as a substitute in the 10th minute to replace an injured Pedro Santos — raced down the right sideline from midfield, then dropped a pass to the 6-yard box as he reached the end line.
The advantage became 3-0 with Zardes’ strike from the top of the penalty area. His eight goals, one more than Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez, are second-most in his career to the 16 he scored for the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2014. He had two goals in 24 games for LA last season.
With each team playing for the third time in eight days, there were some notable omissions to the lineup. Crew captain Wil Trapp did not start or play, but the midfielder was dressed on the bench. Chicago midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger did not make the trip after playing 180 minutes the past two matches.
The Crew play at New England on May 19. The Fire host the Houston Dynamo on May 20.
—Field Level Media