The View from Our Crew

Crew Humbled by Sounders

SEATTLE, WA - August 27, 2011 - Seattle Sounders FC used a Lamar Neagle hat-trick, a club-record six goals and a historic first-half to top the East-leading Columbus Crew, 6-2, on Saturday afternoon in front of 36,364 fans on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field. 

Sounders FC (13-5-9, 48 points) have taken points in 13 of the last 14 contests and have equaled last season's point total, as they improve to 7-2-4 and remain unbeaten in their last six on their home pitch in league play. They are three points behind the idle L.A. Galaxy for the best record in MLS.

Columbus (11-8-7, 40 points) remains winless in seven meetings (six in MLS) with Seattle and fall to 3-7-3 on the road this season. The Crew's Jeff Cunningham became the MLS all-time scoring leader, connecting on a second-half penalty kick.

Neagle's hat-trick highlighted an eventful afternoon for Sounders FC, with two of his strikes coming in the first 21 minutes of play as he aided an effort that had the Rave Green on top 4-0 at the half.

In the fourth minute, Neagle sent a throw in to Mike Fucito, who gave it right back and Neagle raced into the left side of the box. He held off a defender and fired a shot from the top of the box that was deflected by Columbus goalkeeper William Hesmer, but the ball spun into the back of the net for the 1-nil lead.

In the 21st minute, with the Rave Green already on top 2-0 after a successful penalty kick by Mauro Rosales, James Riley crossed it to Neagle at the far post for a 6-yard volley. Rosales also assisted on the play.

To complete the hat-trick, in the 70th minute, Neagle maneuvered up the left side and blasted a shot that ricocheted off the crossbar and bounced down across the line, boosting the lead to 5-1.

The goals were Neagle's third, fourth and fifth of the season. Blaise Nkufo was the first Seattle player to score three goals in a match, against Columbus last season. Neagle's opener in the fourth minute tied a club record for the earliest goal scored.

Seattle's successful PK came in the 16th minute when Rosales fired the ball to the left side of the net, beating Hesmer for his fifth goal of the season to make it 2-0. The PK was a result of a handball inside the box by Columbus defender Rich Balchan.

The 17 minutes between Seattle's first three goals marked the fastest time between three goals scored by Sounders FC. The previous best was 19 minutes between three goals scored against DC United in 2009.

Sounders FC's fourth goal of the half came in the 40th minute. Fucito beat Hesmer and a Crew defender to a Rosales pass, then he wheeled and fired into the net from a sharp angle on the right.

The goal was Fucito's first MLS goal since ousting Kansas City in stoppage time in 2010.

Rosales recorded his team-leading eighth and ninth assists of the season. Montero holds the team record of 10, set in 2010.

Seattle's four first-half goals are the most in club history and Seattle became the first team to score four first-half goals since the Colorado Rapids dispatched Chivas USA, 4-0, in August 2009.

Columbus cut into Seattle's lead in the 59th minute when Cunningham converted the penalty. It was Cunningham's 134th career goal, surpassing Jaime Moreno's 133 for the all-time lead. The goal ended a Seattle's defensive scoreless streak of 309 minutes-the club's third-longest.

Columbus' Josh Gardner added a goal on a set piece in the 73rd minute when he took a quick run up to the ball and sent the 30-yard free kick over the wall of Sounders FC defenders and past Kasey Keller, making it 5-2.

One minute later, Neagle sent a cross into the box from the left side and Columbus' Gardner knocked it in the net at the far post for an own goal where the score would finally settle, 6-2, in favor of Seattle.

The afternoon's offensive onslaught by Sounders FC is the first time Columbus has allowed four goals in a match since Seattle scored four at Columbus last year.

The Rave Green will next play their eighth and final match of the month, when they host FC Dallas in a sold-out Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinal on August 30 at Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila, Wash. Kickoff is 7 p.m. PT. Following the cup semifinal Sounders FC has an MLS bye before resuming play at home on September 10 versus Real Salt Lake.

Frustrating Night for Union in Columbus

COLUMBUS, OH - August 20, 2011 The Philadelphia Union were looking to make a statement to the Eastern Conference leaders, Columbus Crew, but after a physical game and what the Union thought  was  a questionable penalty call against them, Philadelphia dropped the 2-1 decision at Crew Stadium Saturday night.

Photo Credit: Robert IvoryThe Union held the advantage in attempts on goal (17-6), shots, and dominated in corners (13-3), but a Veljko Paunovic header (42nd minute) from a corner was all they could muster in the loss.

“I think we gave everything we could on the field,” French striker Seabastian Le Toux said after the match. “We know that Columbus plays physical, but we challenged them well.”

Philly did play well against the Crew, but Columbus now sits atop the Eastern Conference by five points over Houston and six more than the Union.

Danny Mwanga made Crew keeper Will Hesmer push his shot over the bar, as Mwanga’s rocket from 30 yards out forced Hesmer to make a daring save in the 17th minute.

The Crew’s Emilio Renteria collected Columbus’ first tally in the 37th as he flicked a Robbie Rogers’ cross into the net.  Union keeper Faryd Mondragon came out to meet Renteria, but the Crew forward chipped the ball slowly into the net as Union defenders could not get to the ball as it crossed the line.

Paunovic answered right before half time as he was not defended on a Keon Daniels corner, heading in the equalizer for Philadelphia. Hesmer thought he was impeded  by Mwanga, as Mwanga jumped in front of Hesmer, not letting him punch the corner away, but the ref saw no foul and the match ended 1-1 at the break. Hesmer was cautioned for his protest.

“After (Columbus) scored, we thought we could still tie and win the game,” Paunovic said. “We were prepared and we worked really hard. I think we have very good guys and we have the right strategy.”

The Union felt they were unjustly called for a penalty in the 52nd minute when a Rogers ball struck the hand of defender Sheanon Williams in the box.  The ball did hit the hand of Williams, who was in the action of putting his hands in a defensive position, and Mendoza knocked the game winner in.

Even the penalty seemed to come tantalizing close for the Union, as Mondragon stopped the shot with his left hand, but Mendoza had too much power on the shot, bouncing behind the keeper, deflecting off the diving Mondragon  before going in.
Clearly, the bounces were not on the Union’s side tonight.

“To make a call like that in a game like is a little bit too much,” an unhappy Union head coach Peter Nowak said after the match. “That’s all that I can say.”

“Columbus getting a goal like that in the 52nd minute is a nice Christmas present,” Nowak remarked. 

Columbus shut down the Union attack in the later stages of the match, including the Union’s new signing Freddy Adu, who was came on in the 60th minute for Mwanga. Adu played as an attacking left winger and tried to put several crosses into the box.

The Union now return to PPL Park for New England next Saturday. The Union and Crew meet September 17th for what looks to be an exciting return fixture in Philadelphia. 

Crew Extends Lead in East

COLUMBUS, OH - August 20, 2011 - An Andres Mendoza penalty-kick goal early in the second half helped the Columbus Crew top the Philadelphia Union, 2-1, and solidify its position atop the Eastern Conference. The Crew (11-7-7, 40 points) has now won four of its last five matches and extended its Eastern Conference lead to six over the Union (8-6-10, 34), which fell to third place behind Houston (8-7-11, 35 pts), 3-2 winners over Real Salt Lake on Saturday. 

The penalty, in the 51st minute, was whistled by referee Mark Kadlecik for a handball on Philadelphia defender Sheanon Williams, who was attempting to block a Robbie Rogers cross and brought his arms up. Mendoza snuck his penalty past goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon, who dove to his left and looked to have made the save only to watch the ball spin under him and over the line. 

The Crew’s Emilio Renteria opened the scoring in the 37th minute, redirecting in a clever Rogers cross for his sixth goal of the season. The play was started by Mendoza’s through ball to Rogers on the left side of the Union box. Five minutes later, the Union’s Veljko Paunovic equalized, heading in Keon Daniel’s well-delivered corner kick from the right side. 

Crew keeper William Hesmer came up with a big save on Sebastien Le Toux in the first minute of stoppage time to preserve the win.

Offense, Offense, Offense

COLUMBUS, OH - August 13, 2011 - To say the New England Revolution (4-11-9) have struggled this season is a bit of an understatement.  Things didn’t get any better for the struggling Revs as the Columbus Crew (10-7-7) landed a flourish of goals to run away with a decisive 3-1 win. 

Photo Credit: Gary L. Moody Sr.It started out as an incredible opportunity for the Crew despite a plethora of injuries for the home team. Columbus was still without major contributors like Eddie Gaven (leg), Jeff Cunningham (knee), and Rich Balchan (adductor). 

The Crew completely dominated possession in the first 30 minutes as New England failed to gain any momentum.  It wasn’t that Columbus was playing absolutely perfect soccer, but the Revolution couldn’t put a string of passes together or make any sort of run.  Columbus had their opportunities early, but simply weren’t able to finish.  Robbie Rogers, fresh off his big goal against Mexico, looked particularly sharp with his passes and was able to make several quality runs in the first half.

The Crew’s first big opportunity came in the 39th as Chad Marshall connected on a header inside the box; only Reis diving to his right kept it from becoming a Columbus goal.  But the shocker came moments before halftime as Benny Feilhaber shook Kevin Burns to sneak a shot past Will Hesmer to put the visitors to 1-0 at the half. 

The second half saw a serious change in momentum as the hometown Crew took over. 

"A great response from the guys," Columbus Head Coach Robert Warzycha declared. "We played smart and that's why we scored goals."

An own goal by Kevin Alston in the 54th minute brought things even, but in the 75th minute Columbus scored again to take the lead.  Julius James connected with a great header off a set piece to make the score 2-1. 

"I am very happy that we have that winning mentality," James stated. "We actually play really good soccer. I sit back there and I look at our midfielders doing this amazing stuff."

Emilio Renteria then beat Reis in the 81st to give the Crew an even bigger lead at 3-1. The Crew failed to let up on the offensive side as several attackers, particularly Renteria, continued to pester Reis with shots.  The final whistle sounded and the Crew came away with a valuable 3 points thanks to a resilient and aggressive home side. 

"We always fight back no matter what, we never give up," Rogers commented. "You don't want to lose at home in front of your fans."

The home fans certainly weren't disappointed on this occasion. Goals, yellow cards, physical play.....everything a fan could ask for. Thank you Crew!

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More from the Columbus Crew

Crew Retains First Place in Eastern Conference

COMMERCE CITY, CO - August 5, 2011 - The Columbus Crew suffered a 2-0 loss at the hands of defending MLS champions Colorado Rapids on Friday night behind second half goals by Brian Mullan and Omar Cummings. Despite the loss the Crew retains its first place in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of the Philadelphia Union who hosts the Houston Dynamo on Saturday, August 6. Midfielder Eddie Gaven was forced to leave the match in the 7th minute with a right leg contusion suffered when Rapids’ Jeff Larentowicz connected with him while attempting a shot on goal. Gaven’s injury will be re-evaluated upon his return to Columbus.

With the early setback, Crew midifelder  Bernardo Anor was immediately called into action to cover the vacant spot left by Gaven. The Rapids and the Crew tried to create opportunities early on  but were unable to capitalize on them thanks, in part, to strong defensive play on both teams.

In the 21st minute Andres Mendoza connected with a cross from Sebastian Miranda only to see his header go wide to the right. Just a few minutes later Robbie Rogers made a run down the left side and crossed the ball into the box barely missing the Mendoza connection.

Colorado opened the scoring ten minutes into the second half when Mullan picked up a ball from Wells Thompson, outside the box,  and shot it right underneath the crossbar into the top left corner of the net for the 1-0 lead. Mullan almost got on the board again six minutes later but his shot from the same distance sailed high above the goal.

The Crew continued to look for the equalizer and its best opportunity came in the 74th minute when Eric Gehrig crossed a ball to Mendoza who left-footed a point blank shot at straight at Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens.

The final tally of the evening came in the 79th minute when midfielder Sanna Nyassi played a ball to Cummings who easily slotted it in the back of the net giving the home team the 2-0 win.

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