Gyasi Zardes scored twice, Lucas Zelarayan had a goal and two assists and Youness Mokhtar had a goal and an assist as the Columbus Crew defeated FC Cincinnati 4-0 in their first Group E match of the MLS is Back Tournament at ESPN Wide World of Sports near Orlando, Fla., early Sunday morning.
A weather delay in the previous match between the New York Red Bulls and Atlanta United pushed the start of the nightcap back 50 minutes to 11:20 p.m. ET.
The wait was worth it for the Crew (2-0-1, 7 points). Zelarayan opened the scoring in the 27th minute, Zardes doubled the lead three minutes later and made it 3-0 in the 49th with a left-footed volley off a pass by Zelarayan for his third goal of the season.
Zardes has five goals in three matches against the second-year franchise as the Crew moved to 2-0-1 vs. their Ohio rival.
Mokhtar extended the lead to 4-0 in the 60th minute against the lax Cincinnati (0-3-0, 0 points) defense and Eloy Room made three saves for his second shutout to spoil the Cincinnati coaching debut of former Dutch defender Jaap Stam, who was hired May 21.
Zelarayan put Columbus ahead 1-0 when he ripped a 23-yard free kick off the right post for his second goal of the season.
Zardes quickly made it 2-0. Mokhtar found a seam with a through ball that enabled Zardes to break free and place a shot past Przemyslaw Tyton.
Sebastian Berhalter, 19, the son of former Crew coach and current U.S. men's national team coach Gregg Berhalter, made his MLS debut for Columbus in the 77th minute.
The three group stage games count in the regular season standings. The top two teams from each of the six groups along with the four best third-place finishers will move to the knockout stage, which begins July 25.
On Thursday in Orlando, the Crew play the Red Bulls and Cincinnati faces Atlanta.
--Field Level Media