Perhaps it was seeing the shower of goals at Red Bull Arena but not being among the scorers. Perhaps it was the fact that he has form against Minnesota United (see below). Or perhaps he was just feeling it, as all good strikers often do.

It doesn’t really matter what spurred on Gyasi Zardes last weekend. All that matters is that his goalscoring instincts put him a position to find the net and he did so with ruthless efficiency. Twice he pounced on spills from Minnesota’s goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair. In between, he tracked the run of Michael Barrios and was in the right place at the right time for when Barrios executed his pass.

Zardes arrived in April with a big reputation. With such a reputation comes a certain level of expectation. As a striker closing in on 100 goals (he now has 94), it was clear for many what the expectation was––goals, and lots of them.

He delivered on that expectation this past Saturday, though head coach, Robin Fraser, had this to say to Altitude TV’s Chris Dempsey shortly after the final whistle: “I think Gyasi’s been great since day one for us.

“The difference is everybody looks at goals and only goals, and if he’s not scoring goals people say ‘what’s wrong with him?’”

Fraser added: “He does more things right per game than most people; in terms of what he does defensively, the runs he makes offensively, (he) puts himself in good situations, and now that he’s scoring goals people are actually appreciating him.

“We’ve appreciated him since day one. He’s been a big part of us since he’s been here.”

Fraser was reiterating what he’d outlined to me 24 hours earlier as part of the regular chat we have ahead of each game. In that conversation he spoke of the ground covered by Zardes - the most of any player on the team. He was glowing when speaking of Zardes and his attitude, his team first approach, and how the younger players such as Darren Yapi were able to learn from one of the best in MLS.

A product of the LA Galaxy system, his first five seasons in the league were spent competing for a starting role alongside the likes of Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan, Giovani dos Santos, Mike Magee, and Alan Gordon, and yet he still managed 34 goals during his time.

He scored double digit goals in his first three seasons in Columbus, 44 in total, including a career-high 19 in 2018, the year he was named MLS Comeback Player of the Year.

The 30-year-old is a two-time MLS Cup winner (2014 & 2020), a two-time Gold Cup winner (2017 & 2021), and an MLS All-Star (2015, when staged at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park).

In scoring three against the Loons once again he became only the fifth player in MLS history to score multiple regular season hat-tricks against the same opponent, after Stern John (vs. Miami Fusion), Cobi Jones (vs. Colorado), Mamadou Diallo (vs. LA Galaxy), and Carlos Vela (vs. Colorado).

Stern John enjoyed five hat-tricks in his MLS career. Jones had four, with three in the same season, including the pair against the Rapids (1998). Diallo managed four hat-tricks, though in the games against the Galaxy he actually scored four goals in both encounters (2001 & 2002). As for Vela, his trebles against the Rapids came in the last game of the 2019 season and the opening game of 2022 and make up two of his three hat-tricks.

It was while doing my notes ahead of last weekend’s game that, for some reason, I went back and looked at Zardes’s scoring record. I have no idea why, and perhaps it was that as a quality striker I expected him to catch fire at some point and wanted to be ready.

And that’s when I spotted it.

His only other MLS career hat-trick had also been against Minnesota, when playing the final game of the 2018 regular season, for Columbus Crew. He netted all three in a 3-2 win, in a match which was also halted due to the weather.

On mentioning this little nugget to Fraser, he smiled and said: “Really? Well, that’s a good fact.”

And with that we moved on to other matters. Nobody on the call expected history to repeat itself, but it did. Timing is often key to a striker’s success, and the hard-working, humble Zardes has rounded the corner into goalscoring form just as former club Columbus Crew prepares to visit DICK’S Sporting Goods Park.

In four appearances (three starts) against Columbus - all while with the Galaxy - Zardes has one goal. But just so it’s out there, Zardes has already scored for the Rapids against the Galaxy this season - his other former club - in the 2-0 home win last month. Patterns, trends, coincidences? It’s what I’m here for.