BY: Karen Watson
SEATTLE – Sell out crowd? Check. Goals? Check. Records broken? Check. No one could ask for more in the Sounders 6-2 home win over Eastern Conference leaders, Columbus Crew.
Midfielder Lamar Neagle was the unarguable star of the match, earning only the second hat trick in the club’s history and playing a key role in two other goals. He also tied the Sounders record for fastest goal with his opening shot in the fourth minute. If that weren’t enough, three goals inside the opening seventeen minutes also set a new team record along with the final tally of six, a franchise best. Seattle scored four goals in the first half, which hasn’t been done since 2009 when Colorado defeated Chivas USA 4-0.
The Sounders gained the early advantage in the 4’ after Neagle connected with a pass from Mike Fucito and despite being shoved about my Crew defender Rich Balchan, took the shot. Columbus keeper William Hesmer fumbled the clearance on the ground, sending it over his right shoulder and then could only watch helplessly as it rolled over the line.
Referee Baldomero Toledo awarded Seattle a penalty kick in 16’ after a Columbus hand ball, taken by Mauro Rosales who drilled it past Hesmer, putting Seattle two up within the opening quarter of the match. That was followed by a second goal from Neagle in the 21’ after he capitalized on a fantastic pass from James Riley and without hesitation put it into the back of the net.
Columbus was left scrambling for the rest of the first half, kept inside their own territory for the majority of play and failing to get the ball forward to pressure the Sounders back line. Their only dangerous chance came in the 29’when Andres Mendoza was alone in front of goal but Keller managed to just get a hand on it, deflecting it off the cross bar and over the back of goal.
Sounders forward Mike Fucito got on the board in the 40’off a Rosales pass that went almost behind him, but he managed to bring the ball under control as he was shoved down by a Crew defender and still sneak the ball behind Hesmer.
Columbus were awarded a penalty kick in the 59’ taken by Jeff Cunningham and earning him the title of MLS all-time leading scorer with his 134th career goal.
Neagle was simply on fire in this game, earning the hat trick in the 70’ off a shot from twenty yards out that hit the cross bar and landed just over the line inside the net, leaving Hesmer to look on in shock.
But Columbus were determined to get a better result and quickly answered in the 74’ off a free kick, well taken by defender Josh Gardner. But his celebrations were to be short lived after he unfortunately turned a Neagle cross into an own goal in the 74’, handing Seattle their sixth goal.
The Sounders have a solid second place footing in the Western Conference after defeating FC Dallas 1-0 away last week and have taken points in twelve of their last thirteen games. They next face Dallas in the U.S. Open Cup semifinal. Interestingly, Columbus Crew has tallied two draws in Seattle and are winless in the series. They haven’t won against their former coach, now Sounders coach, Sigi Schmid in seven games.