After scoring 61 goals across all competitions for the Columbus Crew in four-plus years, Gyasi Zardes faces his former team for the first time Saturday since being traded to Colorado in April.
Zardes is in solid form to play his former team after he recorded a hat trick in a 4-3 win against Minnesota last Saturday. He has six goals and two assists in 15 games since joining the Rapids.
Zardes helped the Crew win the 2020 MLS Cup while scoring 57 goals in MLS regular-season play and the playoffs from 2018 to 2022.
The Rapids (8-9-6, 30 points) have won three of their past four games and are on the rise in the Western Conference, just three points below the playoff line, with two games in hand.
It will be business as usual for Zardes on Saturday, according to Rapids coach Robin Fraser, himself a former Crew player.
"He's going to make the same runs, he's going to work just as hard defensively, he's going to look for his shots," Fraser said. "I don't think anything changes with him. He is that solid of a character."
Zardes was replaced in Columbus by Colombian international Cucho Hernandez, in a move that is paying dividends on the club-record $10.5 million transfer fee to England's Watford.
Hernandez scored four goals in his first three games, went scoreless in the next two then added his fifth goal last Saturday as the Crew (8-6-9, 33 points) downed New York City FC 3-2 to run their mark to 5-1-5 in the past 11 games.
That surge has enabled them to rise to fifth place in the East, although five teams are within three points of them in the standings.
The Crew are unbeaten in their past five road games (3-0-2). Meanwhile, Colorado has scored nine goals in winning its past two games, a club record for goals in a two-game span.
Crew coach Caleb Porter looks forward to the possibility of a high-scoring game.
"We're a team that does well in time and space so if we're in an open game I like our chances," Porter said. "We've got good attackers, we're good in transition, we can keep the ball. It's probably not going to be a 0-0 game."
-- Field Level Media