The Crew has won three straight, none more meaningful and emotional than the final game at the first soccer-specific stadium in MLS. Their $314 million Lower.com Field will be christened July 3 against the New England Revolution.
Chicago has lost two straight and was victimized in the 17th and 34th minutes by Zardes, whose 32 goals at Historic Crew Stadium are the most by any player.
Coincidentally, Zardes wears No. 11, as did Jeff Cunningham when he scored the first goal in stadium history on May, 15, 1999. Cunningham held the previous record of 31 goals scored at the venue.
Zardes made it 1-0 thanks to a poor clearance. Lucas Zelarayan sent a service to the goal box where the Fire's Chinonso Offor headed it away but the ball took one bounce to Zardes for the quick volley before a sellout crowd.
Columbus doubled the score on a sequence that started with a long ball out of the back by defender Jonathan Mensah. Derrick Etienne brought the ball down with his right foot and drew goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth (zero saves) to the top of the box, leaving the net unguarded.
Etienne unselfishly passed to an unmarked Zardes for his third goal of the season, all coming in the past two games. Mensah earned his first assist since Aug. 5, 2017.
Goalkeeper Evan Bush made his 193rd career start, but first for the Crew. The Ohio native did not have to make a save.
The final score was fitting because the stadium became known as the home of "Dos a Cero" for four consecutive 2-0 wins by the U.S. men's national team vs. Mexico.
The teams have quick turnarounds with each playing Wednesday: The Crew plays at Philadelphia and the Fire hosts FC Cincinnati.