Gyasi Zardes makes his return to StubHub Center on Saturday when the Columbus Crew forward plays his first match against the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Zardes, from nearby Hawthorne, Calif., scored 34 goals in 131 games for the Galaxy from 2013-17 before being acquired in a trade by Columbus for forward Ola Kamara on Jan. 20.
“It’s just going to be a great atmosphere,” Zardes said. “I played there a majority of my career so I’m really looking forward to playing in that environment with a new team, a new challenge, a new goal in mind. I get to see how other players felt when they came back to play against their old team.”
Zardes leads the Crew (8-5-6, 30 points) with 11 goals, a vast difference from the two goals in 24 games with LA (6-7-4, 22) last season.
“For a striker, scoring multiple goals early on gives a striker a lot of confidence, so it does give me a lot of confidence,” he said. “But, the more opportunities I get early on in the game will be a positive factor as well.”
Kamara (six goals in 14 games) is questionable with a calf injury, but the Galaxy have former Manchester United star Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has 10 goals in 13 games (10 starts).
The Galaxy may also see the return of the Dos Santos brothers, Giovani and Jonathan, after Mexico was eliminated from the World Cup in Russia.
Their presence may help stabilize the Galaxy after LA squandered two-goal leads and settled for a 3-3 tie versus San Jose on Saturday and a 2-2 draw versus D.C. United on Wednesday.
“We need to be better,” LA coach Sigi Schmid said. “We as a coaching staff need to work harder, because obviously what we’re doing hasn’t been enough at this stage.”
—Field Level Media