Records tumbled about as fast as goals were scored Saturday, as Sounders FC rolled to a 6-2 Major League Soccer victory over the Columbus Crew at CenturyLink Field.
Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller likened it to a half-court basketball game, and along the way Seattle set or matched club records for most goals in a game, most goals in a half (four), largest margin of victory, earliest goal scored (fourth minute) and shortest span for three goals (17 minutes).
Individually, Lamar Neagle of Federal Way became the second Sounders player to score three goals in a game, Columbus’ Jeff Cunningham became the MLS career scoring leader, and Crew defender Josh Gardner scored for both teams in about one minute.
“We haven’t had a game like this, where we get off to a good start, in a while,” Neagle said. “… It was nice. We were kind of connecting at the beginning and just throughout the whole game we were all kind of on the same page offensively and defensively, for the most part.”
Afterward, both teams pointed to the first goal as the one that ignited the fireworks. It came from Neagle, who fought through a challenge from Rich Balchan and fired. Goalkeeper William Hesmer got a hand on the ball, but he couldn’t control it, and it continued across the goal line.
“I have to do better on that one,” Hesmer said. “From there it was just downhill.”
Mauro Rosales made it 2-0 on a penalty kick in the 16th minute, Neagle made it 3-0 on a volley in the 21st minute, and Mike Fucito increased it to 4-0 five minutes before halftime.
The first two goals of the second half were ones for the record book.
In the 59th minute, Cunningham stepped to the penalty spot and banged in the 134th goal of his MLS career – moving him past Jaime Moreno.
“I’m going to keep this ball for the rest of my life,” Cunningham said. “This is a great feeling. Fourteen years is a long time in this league and to become the all-time scoring leader is a great honor.”
Eleven minutes later there was another ball perhaps destined for a different trophy case. Neagle scored from the top of the penalty area to complete his hat trick, joining Blaise Knufo as the only Sounders to score a hat trick in league play.
“He feels he can go back to Federal Way and they’ll actually treat him well and treat him with respect,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid joked. “No, I mean it was great. He keeps working hard. He’s working on his first touch, which is something that’s helping his game.”
Both final goals came from Gardner: a free kick in the 73th minute and an own goal in the 74th.
That ended the scoring, while Keller regularly urged his defense not to coast.
“There’s a bad habit in MLS of taking leads and relaxing,” Keller said. “… The best teams in the world don’t do that. The best teams in the world play right, and then as the other team cheats, then they take advantage of it. We got into a little bit of a half-court basketball game: ‘Here, you get the ball, OK we get the ball.’ But I understand we were tired.”
The result leaves Seattle (13-5-9, 48 points) three points behind Los Angeles in the Supporters’ Shield race for the league’s best record.
Columbus (11-8-7, 40 points) leads the MLS East.
The sizzling Sounders get a break in MLS play until Sept. 10, when Real Salt Lake visits. However, they will be back at practice today, preparing for their U.S. Open Cup semifinal with FC Dallas on Tuesday at Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila.
SURGERY FOR WHITE
Forward O’Brian White had a second surgery on his leg to repair an arterial blockage, the club announced. White will remain at Virginia Mason Medical Center for several days. He had come off the disabled list July 12 after undergoing surgery April 27 to remove a blood clot. He has not appeared in any competitive matches since April 22, and Schmid indicated he is probably done for the season.