9:04 PM EDT, 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.
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