Hosting a crucial “six-pointer” matchup against CF Montréal, the Columbus Crew rattled off its third straight win at Lower.com Field on Saturday night thanks to a brace from Gyasi Zardes.

With the win – and Montreal losing – the Crew sits just three points outside of the postseason with seven games remaining in the 2021 regular season.

“Great win against a good team,” head coach Caleb Porter said about the 2-1 victory. “Obviously, the end was a little [nervier] than we wanted, but …. I thought we got really good performances across the board.

“We haven’t been able to play that back four that we played tonight. That was the back four we pretty much played all last season. I think it’s maybe been two or three times we’ve been able to play that back four, and I think you saw the quality and the cohesiveness in that unit.”

Zardes opened the scoring just before halftime when he finished a pinpoint cross from Derrick Etienne Jr. for the Crew’s first lead in a first half since July 17.

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Then in the 62nd minute, Zardes delivered one of the goals of the season when he found space atop the box and unleashed a corking strike that hummed into the top-left corner.

“I think this was one of his best games of the year, and it wasn’t just the goals,” Porter said of Zardes after the game. “It was the little things he did defensively and also just his movement.”

Zardes now has seven goals this season and three in his last two appearances.

As for the Crew overall, the Club conceded in second-half stoppage time but held on to remain unbeaten in their last three games.

“That’s now three wins in a row at home,” Porter said. “We’re building some momentum, this team believes, and they know there’s a lot more work to do. We file this away, we put three points in the bank. We know we’ve got seven more (games). Our goal is to win the next four at home – that would be seven in a row at home.”

The Black & Gold will now turn their focus away from league play for a few days ahead of Wednesday night’s Campeones Cup match inside Lower.com Field.

Columbus, the reigning MLS Cup champions, will host Deportivo Cruz Azul, the current Mexican champions, in a winner-take-all match to determine the best campeón in North America.

Tickets are still available to watch what could be the first time the Crew hoists a trophy inside Lower.com Field. A win would also mark the Club’s first-ever trophy against an international opponent.

Following Wednesday night’s final, the Black & Gold will play at the Philadelphia Union next Sunday afternoon. The Union are currently the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference standings.

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