2011 Aug 27

Sounders FC blow out Eastern leaders with a Neagle hat trick and then some

Seattle Sounders FC  6 - 2  Columbus Crew
CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA

4' SEA: Lamar Neagle (Mike Fucito)
16' SEA: Mauro Rosales (PK)
21' SEA: Lamar Neagle (James Riley, Mauro Rosales)
40' SEA: Mike Fucito (Mauro Rosales, Fredy Montero)

59' CBS: Jeff Cunningham (PK)
70' SEA: Lamar Neagle (Osvaldo Alonso)
73' CBS: Josh Gardner
74' SEA: Own goal (Josh Gardner)

Seattle: Kasey Keller; James Riley, Jeff Parke (Zach Scott 75'), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Tyson Wahl; Mauro Rosales (Alvaro Fernandez 71'), Osvaldo Alonso, Erik Friberg, Lamar Neagle; Mike Fucito (Nate Jaqua 78'), Fredy Montero.
Substitutes not used: Terry Boss, Roger Levesque, Servando Carrasco, Brad Evans.

Columbus: William Hesmer; Sebastian Miranda, Rich Balchan, Chad Marshall, Josh Gardner; Kevin Burns, Emmanuel Ekpo, Robbie Rogers, Dilly Duka (Jeff Cunningham 56'); Andres Mendoza (Tommy Heinemann 56'), Emilio Renteria (Justin Meram 76').
Substitutes not used: Alex Riggs, Bernardo Anor, Eric Gehrig, Danny O'Rourke.

Match report from Ron Stickney:

Lamar Neagle's hat trick was only half of the scoring for Seattle Sounders FC as they blew away the visiting Columbus Crew, who were the top team in the Eastern Conference.

Ex-USL-Sounder Josh Gardner accomplished a dubious feat perhaps never seen before by scoring a brilliant goal from a free kick, then 51 seconds later scoring an own goal in the opposite net.

When Columbus were given a penalty kick, it was taken by Jeff Cunningham for his 134th MLS goal, breaking the record held by Jaime Moreno.

4' SEA: Neagle (Fucito). Seattle got on the scoreboard quickly. Neagle threw the ball in to Mike Fucito, who passed it back to Neagle who was on an overlapping run. Neagle held off Rich Balchan's challenge and got into the penalty area for a shot at the right corner. Goalkeeper William Hesmer dove and got his hands on the ball, but the ball went over his hands and spun into the goal. 1-0 Seattle.

At 10' Neagle worked a lateral give and go with Fredy Montero and passed to the open Mauro Rosales, whose hard shot was well saved by Hesmer and held. Then it was Montero's turn as he worked into the penalty area, worked his marker left and right, then missed the target by a few yards from close.

16' SEA: Rosales (PK). Seattle were lucky to earn a penalty kick when on a throw-in Fucito suddenly spun away from his marker Balchan, allowing the ball to bounce up into Balchan's hand just a foot inside the penalty area. Referee Baldomero Toledo pointed to the spot, and Rosales beat Hesmer with a shot inside the left post. 2-0 Seattle.

Kasey Keller's first save was a good one when he got down to block a hard shot from Andres Mendoza. Emilio Renteria caught up with the rebound near the end line and shot wide of the near post to end the threat.

21' SEA: Neagle (Riley, Rosales). On a Seattle attack, Rosales drew the defender and fed James Riley's overlapping run. Riley had to chase the ball to the end line, but managed to hit an excellent curving cross to the far post, where Neagle was open to volley it in. 3-0 Seattle.

For Columbus, Mendoza got a foot on Robbie Rogers' cross and chipped a shot off the top of the crossbar. Seattle had to absorb a period of continued pressure as Fucito twice headed corner kicks clear from his goal area, and Riley headed clear a long free kick served to the near post. Gardner took a 35-yard free kick and sent it inches over the bar.

40' SEA: Fucito (Rosales, Montero). Montero found Rosales open on the right, and instead of shooting he chipped a pass to the 6-yard line. Fucito raced between Hesmer and Chad Marshall to play the ball wide, then turned and finished the goal before Hesmer could get back to his line. 4-0 Seattle.

Keller had to make one more save in the first half when Mendoza fired a shot at the top shelf.

59' CBS: Cunningham (PK). It was Columbus' time to get a soft penalty kick when Renteria got in on goal after Jhon Kennedy Hurtado missed his attempt to head the ball clear. Renteria got off his shot, which Keller saved, and Hurtado got Renteria slightly when he swung at the ball late. Cunningham took the penalty kick, sending the ball right while Keller dove the wrong way. 4-1 Seattle.

For Seattle, Montero's best shot came a few minutes later on a counterattack when he shot at the far post, forcing a save and earning a corner. Montero had another chance with a 20-yard free kick but he hit the wall.

70' SEA: Neagle (Alonso). Osvaldo Alonso passed to Neagle on an attack up the left touch line. Neagle drove towards goal, then cut back to get to the 18, where he found himself open for a shot. He fired hard and the ball bent perfectly to the underside of the crossbar at the far corner, bouncing a half foot beyond the goal line and jumping back out. The assistant referee correctly signaled a goal and Neagle had his hat trick. 5-1 Seattle.

73' CBS: Gardner. Gardner's 35-yard free kick up the middle was a beauty, struck hard. The ball hooked sharply to the right near goal and beat Keller, going just under the bar. 5-2 Seattle.

74' SEA: Own goal (Gardner). Less than a minute later Gardner knocked the ball into his own net. Neagle crossed the ball into the goal area looking for Fucito's far-post run, and Gardner misplayed it badly. 6-2 Seattle.

Seattle's defending went soft for the final 15 minutes. Keller had tough saves on shots to the lower near corner from Sebastian Miranda and substitute Tommy Heinemann. Just after entering, Justin Meram corkscrewed a hard shot inches over the bar. Miranda forced another save at the end after a Seattle turnover. Keller was surely relieved to hear the final whistle.

          SEA  CBS
Shots:     16   16
Saves:      8    3
Corners:    5    4
Fouls:     18   12
Offsides:   2    3

64' CBS: Burns cautioned for a tactical foul on Neagle
73' SEA: Parke cautioned for a reckless foul
81' SEA: Scott cautioned for a reckless tackle

Referees: Baldomero Toledo; Frank Anderson, Ian Anderson; Alejandro Mariscal

Attendance: 36,364

Postmatch Quotes

Seattle Sounders FC

Sigi Schmid - Head Coach

Opening statement: "Obviously this afternoon we got off to a good start. We were a little fortunate on the first goal (with) the bounce. I know Hesmer's a quality goalkeeper; those aren't the kind of goals you expect to get against him. Then we were able to parlay that and score more goals after that. I thought, offensively, our combinations, our cohesion were very good at times. They're a quality team, so they're going to have character and they're going to stand up in the second half and try and battle back, which they did, and obviously they got a PK and they got a free kick. With the amount of games we're playing, to be able to come out and score six goals against the Eastern leader is something that the team has to be very proud of."

On Lamar Neagle and his three goals today: "He feels he can go back to Federal Way and they'll actually treat him well and treat him with respect [laughs]. 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 come along. Like I said, on the first goal he got a little bit fortunate. The second goal was clinical; it was a great volley, a great cross (from Riley), and then the third goal, I mean he loves cutting inside and hitting that. It was a little bit similar to the goal he got against Salt Lake. I'm glad the linesman was well-positioned to call it, because it was obviously in. So he's got to be a very happy young man."

On giving Neagle the start over Fernandez: "Just to stay fresh, keep our team right. Lamar obviously didn't play in Monterey. Fernandez played a lot of hard minutes down in Monterey, helped us, scored a great goal down there. We wanted to come back with Rosales, who also didn't play in Monterey. So it's just a matter of squad rotation and staying fresh."

On the depth of the squad: "It definitely speaks well for the depth of our squad. Obviously we're missing a couple of key pieces that aren't healthy, but the majority now are healthy, and I felt all along that we could go 16 or 17 deep without having too much of an issue or changing our ability to play."

Is White done for the season?: "I can't say that 100% right now but ... it looks more like he'll be done rather than coming back at this stage. What's most important for us is that they're able to resolve the issue on a permanent basis and that O'Brian will be able to resume his career. So when that's going to happen that's something that right now we're still in a wait-and-see."

On Mike Fucito getting his first MLS goal this season: "It was good to see Mike get a goal. He made a good run. He was quicker to the ball, finished it well. He was also the guy who was standing right there to tap it in when Josh Gardner scored the own goal. I thought he had some good moments. He's doing a better job staying in the middle of the field and when he's there he's dangerous."

On adjusting for the absence of Julius James: "Not all that much. We knew they were going to have to replace Julius James and we wanted to make them play out of the middle a little bit more and force the ball there. I think that Rich Balchan is a good rookie who is coming off of having been out for awhile with an injury and it maybe took him a little bit of time to get used to the rhythm of the game."

On the Crew's Jeff Cunningham scoring his 134th career MLS goal: "As the penalty got called, I was sort of surprised because I saw some of their players grab the ball ahead of Jeff, and I'm like going 'I can't believe they're not going to give them the goal here today or give it a try.' And I felt for Kasey, because I wanted Kasey to save it because you don't want to be the guy who gets that scored against. But Jeff's had a great career in this league and he's scored a lot of goals. It's good to see him get that behind him."

Did you designate Rosales to take that PK before the game?: "Yeah. Rosales was No. 1 and Neagle was No. 2. Neagle might've had four, but we definitely designated Rosales."

On the defense's efforts today: "I think the defense overall has done well in terms of their ability and their willingness to sacrifice their bodies. I think we've blocked a lot of shots, which is something we did really well when we had a good run last year. We did a good job of getting our body in front of shots. And today we did a good job of that as well. We want to eliminate the goals we take on set pieces, because they all count the same, but I think as a team we've defended much better. The second half was a little harder for us, because they went into a 3-5-2 and I was a little stubborn. I didn't entirely switch to match them. I wanted to see a little bit of how the guys would adjust to it themselves. Early on, we did alright with it and then we needed to adjust a little bit more, but that's something we'll talk about tomorrow."

Lamar Neagle

Do you remember your last hat trick?: "No, not really. Maybe in Charleston I might've had one. I don't know though. I can't really remember, been a while. It might've been high school actually, back when I was a Raider."

On the fast start: "Yeah, we haven't had a game like this where we've gotten off to a great start in a while. Usually it's kind of the other way around, where we have to kind of dig ourselves out of a hole. So it was nice. We were kind of connecting at the beginning and throughout the first game. We were all on the same page offensively and defensively for the most part, except kind of towards the end."

On early success in career: "I wouldn't say so early. I've kind of worked my way up. I was with the Sounders and the level was kind of a little bit too fast for me in 2009 and going down there helped me out, in Charleston, with Tom Heinemann, who's actually with Columbus. We both have moved up and done well. He's doing well, as well."

Surprised the first goal went in?: "Yeah, I didn't really hit it too well, but I mean a shot on goal has a chance. Sometimes you get those."

On other goals: "Yeah, the third one was reminiscent of Salt Lake. Most of the game I was crossing with my left and I wasn't cutting in. Finally he was seeing that and he was cutting off the line, so I cut in, had some space and hit it. On the second one, James put in a great cross to the back post where I was sitting all alone and had a tap in."

On deferring to Rosales on the PK, ever wonder what if?: "Yeah, Mauro's great though. Great player. Great role model. I knew he could bang 'em in. It wasn't a question of how many goals can I get today? It was a question of winning the game."

On finally scoring at home: "It's great to finally score in front of family. It was nice. I had a lot of people here. I think I had like 16 tickets I had to give out. I bunch of people waiting in the green loft."

Ever been on a team with so many scoring option?: "Not really. No. It's always been those one or two guys that bang in a lot of goals. This is great because who do they mark? On any given day we have people who step up and it's been like that all season with the depth that we have. We have players who can rotate in and out without (skipping) a beat."

How much of today's success was the team playing well and how much was Columbus not playing well?: "When it comes down to it, we have to put the passes on our feet and that's what we were doing. Like I said we were on the same page and everybody was connecting. We were moving off the ball really well and that made it lot easier to find our own players."

Mauro Rosales

On the game: "We know they're a tough team and I think we did our job. We played very focused in that game. We were at home and nobody can take points from our home."

On Neagle: "I've very happy for him. He's working on it every day and every training and trying to get his chance. Today, three goals, I'm very happy for him and I hope he can keep up this performance."

On the team being sharp and fresh during busy stretch: "One of the reasons is because the coach has made some substitutions in the few games and tried to keep all the guys fresh. He gives minutes to everybody and every guy coming onto the field is trying to do his best."

On having lots of scoring options: "We have many options, that's why we score these kinds of goals. Today we have six. We have many more chances. When we have the chances, that's something we have to do, try to score as many goals as we can. I think we're working very hard and we're having a good time."

Mike Fucito

On minor breakthrough: "Absolutely. Yeah. I know I've done it in Champions League and some people say, 'Well, can he do it against bigger defenders?' I knew it was going to come. It was just a matter of time. I've been close so far, so to finally get that it's good. There's going to be more to come."

Why the attention on the MLS drought?: "I don't know, but to me it's still soccer. It's the same game. Whether we're playing a team from Costa Rica or Chicago or wherever, it's all the same. I know it was just a matter of time."

On the reward of an effort goal: "Oh yeah, and they all count the same. It was nice to get one with my right foot; my last two were with my left. It's also being busy in the box and Sigi wants us to make that near-post run, so it was good to get it that way."

On not having scored in MLS before: "I think for me and the run of games that I've had -- a couple good saves, a couple PK calls, a post here and there -- it's just that you're doing all the right things and sometimes you need a bit of luck and things to just go your way. Hopefully I got all the bad luck out at the beginning of the year and now they'll keep coming."

Kasey Keller

Was it important to you to keep things tighter in the back at the end?: "It was a little bit frustrating. I know we hit the wall a little bit, maybe 15-20 minutes left. What I was really trying to stress at halftime was really to maintain that discipline. There's a bad habit in MLS of taking leads and then just relaxing. And the other team has nothing to lose and so they just start pressing numbers forward and before you know it, you're in a game for no reason. 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. We've had a hell of a travel, a lot of games, but I just want to really keep that in people's heads. If we want to go far in the playoffs, you've got to treat everything equal. You can't just take time off because were winning 5-1 or 4-0. Finish the game off. Take the time off when the games over."

Is it tougher when you're four goals up instead of maybe two?: "Yeah, but those are the habits you've got to have as a pro. When you see teams like Barcelona, teams like Man U, when they have that four-goal lead, there is no relax. It's a case of now we're really going to beat the crap out of them, but we're going to do it the right way. We're going to do it by not conceding, and that's the tricky part, where we need to have that pride in not conceding goals."

On being the goalkeeper that allows Cunningham's record goal: "I didn't even know and don't even care."

On the response: "What was great and what I was very happy of is when we did concede a goal we went straight back down the field and scored just to take any doubt out of the equation, and that was nice. I feel sorry for Josh Gardner. He smashes a brilliant free kick and then ends up with an own goal 30 seconds later. This game will bite you in the (butt)."

Columbus Crew

Robert Warzycha - Head Coach

On the starting out the game poorly: "The goals we gave up today are not the best ones. We made a lot of mistakes and they punished us. I think it was fortunate for Seattle that they scored easy goals today."

On his speech to the team at halftime: "We changed the system a little bit and tried to stay positive and win the half."

On his team's breakdowns during the match: "To be honest they were moving quicker and were more aggressive with the ball. Sometimes we tried to help and shift and another guy would be open. I think too many easy chances."

On Jeff Cunningham becoming the MLS all-time goal scorer: "That is probably the only positive thing to come from the game today. For him to get a goal and his record is a good thing. We still have eight games until the playoffs. We have to regroup and win the next game."

William Hesner

On giving up three quick goals to start the match: "They put us under pressure to start. I haven't seen the replays of the penalty but I was sure I saved the first one, but I have to do better on that one. From there it was just downhill."

On making changes to stop Seattle offensive onslaught: "They have to be a little mentally tougher. You have to learn to put things behind you and believe in yourself and your ability to come back."

On nearly coming up with a save on Seattle's first goal: "It bounced up on the turf and came back into me. I was stuck in between pushing it wide and catching it. I didn't get enough of it. I thought initially I did. It looked like it spun inside. It is just too hard to play in a place like this to give up a goal like this."

Jeff Cunningham

On becoming the MLS all time leader scorer: "I'm going to keep this ball for the rest of my life. 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. There have been some great players who are part of this league, and I'm just honored to be a part of their group in terms of goal production. I'm very humbled [to be among the likes of] Jamie Moreno, Brian McBride, Landon Donovan, and all those guys. The list goes on and I'm just honored to be grouped with those guys. I appreciate all the support over the years from the fans; the Columbus Crew were where I started my career. To get the opportunity to possibly finish my career here, you couldn't ask for anything better. I have been playing this game since I was three or four and to get to this point, to have this ball is a big honor and I'm very proud."