LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Gyasi Zardes and Lucas Zelarayan scored for the Columbus Crew in a 2-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls on Thusday night to clinch a spot in the knockout round of the MLS is Back tournament.
With a pair of wins to open the World Cup-style tournament, the Crew have all but secured the top spot in their group with a final match against Atlanta on Tuesday.
Zardes threatened in the 17th minute but his header went into the net atop the goal. He scored in the 23rd minute, for his third goal in two games. It was his 70th career MLS goal.
Pedro Santos nearly added another goal for the Crew from distance in the 40th minute but Red Bulls goalkeeper David Jensen dove to push the ball into the post and away from the net.
Zelarayan scored in the opening minutes of the second half. The Crew signed the Argentine attacking midfielder from Tigres UANL for a club record transfer fee in the offseason.
Zardes broke away for a chance at a second goal in the 74th minute but he was successfully tackled by Amro Tarek.
New York had no shots on goal in the game.
Sebastian Berhalter, son of U.S. men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter, got the start in the midfield for the Crew.
Columbus opened the tournament with a 4-0 rout of Ohio rival Cincinnati FC.
Florian Valot scored the lone goal in the Red Bulls’ tournament opening victory over Atlanta.
The 24 teams playing in the tournament are divided into six groups for the preliminary stage, with results counting toward the regular season. Nashville SC and Dallas FC were forced to withdraw because of positive COVID-19 tests.
The tournament is being played without fans at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World.
Both the Crew and the Red Bulls opened the regular season with a win and a draw before the league was shut down by the coronavirus outbreak.
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