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Columbus Crew Score Twice In OT, Beat Nashville To Reach MLS East Finals

Columbus Crew forward Gyasi Zardes (11) sets up for a play in front of FC Cincinnati midfielder Frankie Amaya (24) during an MLS soccer match, Saturday, July 11, 2020, in Kissimmee, Fla.
Phelan M. Ebenhack
/
AP
Columbus Crew forward Gyasi Zardes (11) sets up for a play in front of FC Cincinnati midfielder Frankie Amaya (24) during an MLS soccer match, Saturday, July 11, 2020, in Kissimmee, Fla.

Pedros Santos and Gyasi Zardes scored three minutes apart early in overtime and the Columbus Crew beat expansion Nashville SC 2-0 on Sunday to advance to the MLS Eastern Conference finals.

The third-seeded Crew will host eighth-seeded New England next Sunday for a spot in the MLS Cup.The Revolution beat Orlando City 3-1 earlier Sunday.

Santos scored in the 99th minute off a feed from Zardes near the center of the net, ending seventh-seeded Nashville’s shutout streak at more than 200 minutes.

Zardes struck in the 102nd minute on a breakaway off Luis Díaz’s deft lead pass.

The win capped a challenging week for Columbus, which had seven players test positive for COVID-19 and were unavailable for the match. Because of the cases, the club isolated the infected players and scaled back training for the match to reduce further spread. 

“It was a very challenging week in a very challenging year,” Columbus head coach Caleb Porter said postgame at MAPFRE Stadium Sunday. “I never had a week like this in my life, in my coaching career. But we have had some moments this year that were similar. And so I think the mentality of the team, I just can't say enough about this group, how resilient they are, how they're able to adapt, how they're able to just keep focused. And I've never been more proud of a group.”