CHESTER, Pa. – Julian Carranza and Daniel Gazdag erased a first half lead for Columbus Crew and made sure the fans at chilly Subaru Park had plenty to cheer for with a 4-1 win to start the 2023 regular season campaign.
Columbus Crew dominated possession and had the better of the chances to open the match attacking toward the River End and found an opener when Darlington Nagbe slid a pass to Cucho Hernandez, who sent a low liner that was deflected into the goal. The goal was ruled an own goal on Jakob Glesnes.
Just before halftime the Union had a couple cracks at the goal and a shot from inside the box from Leon Flach was whistled for a handball that stood after video review. Daniel Gazdag opened his 2023 account with the equalizer from the spot but more importantly sent the Union into the locker room with some momentum after going down.
That momentum carried into the second half as the Union was able to put the first 45 of their season behind them and do more to disrupt the Crew backline. The eventual game winner came just seven minutes into the second half when Jose Martinez beat Zelarayan for a ball near midfield and played a perfect ball to Gazdag who started running toward the goal and dished it out wide to Alejandro Bedoya who played it in to Carranza for the finish. The ball was a little bit behind Carranza, who did well to control it and put it away for his first of the night.
Another scramble in the box led to another handball against the Crew when Kai Wagner’s shot was deflected and called a handball after a video review. Gazdag converted calmly again to make it 3-1.
Joaquin Torres then provided the highlight of the night seconds after subbing into the game for Mikael Uhre when he put Crew defender Philip Quinton on the spin cycle and played a perfectly weighted ball into the path of Carranza who finished from a tight angle for his second of the night.
Gazdag and Carranza had 36 goals last season between them so it’s a good sign that they are back to their 2022 ways with four goals in the season opener. Gazdag also registered a pair of assists so the chants of “MVP” from the stands this early in the season shouldn’t be treated as hyperbole. Debuting with his new No. 10 shirt, Gazdag was picked by the supporters as the man of the match and banged the drum at the end of the night. It was a game where Carranza may have been just as valuable and standout performances from Martinez and the captain Bedoya were the difference between an emphatic win and what has too often been a disappointing dropped points to start the year.
Man of the Match
For me Julian Carranza was the Man of the Match. When the Union weren’t giving him a lot of service in the first half, he was doing a lot to pressure the ball and create opportunities for himself. His two goals in the second half were the benefit of his hard work and while it could’ve been more – he had a great chance on a header that missed the target just before his first goal – he was a key ingredient in disrupting a Crew back line that was rebuilt in the off-season with the departure of long-term captain Jonathan Mensah.
The Union head to warmer weather to visit Inter Miami next Saturday night before their trip to El Salvador to open Champions League play against Alianza on March 7.