COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Seattle Sounders FC scored a big win in their playoff chase, routing the Columbus Crew 4-0 at Crew Stadium for their biggest win in franchise history. Blaise Nkufo broke his MLS duck in spectacular fashion by notching a hat-trick, while Nathan Sturgis bagged Seattle's other goal from the penalty spot.
Disaster struck for the Crew just four minutes in. Fredy Montero initially headed a Seattle corner goalwards, only for the attempt to be parried away by a surprised Hesmer. The rebound fell to Blaise Nkfuo, and, even though Hesmer got to his first attempt, the Swiss forward made no mistake on the second chance, slotting home his first MLS goal.
The Crew's first chance fell to Eddie Gaven, who, after a nice bit of passing, shot right at Kasey Keller, which proved to be the Crew's only attempt on target in the opening half. The Crew continued to dominate proceedings for most of the first half after Nkufo's opener, only to be stymied time and again by the Seattle defense. Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Emmanuel Ekpo were particularly lively, but couldn't find a way through.
Despite not seeing much of the ball, the Sounders looked lively when they managed to get forward, and produced several chances to add to their lead. They finally took one of those chances on 38 minutes when Nkufo received the ball on the left, cut outside his marker and slotted home his second past a lunging William Hesmer.
Just three minutes later, after a poor turnover, a quick one-two move put Nyassi in on goal. He was brought down in the area by Danny O'Rourke. Although Jair Maruffo opted not to punish O'Rourke any further, Nathan Sturgis ensured conceding the penalty was punishment enough, sending Hesmer the wrong way to extend Seattle's lead. With the Crew going into the locker room 3-0 down, the Nordecke faithful were quick to make their opinions heard.
The Crew, down three goals, made no changes at the break, but they looked better in the second half. However, a foul in a dangerous spot led to a Fredy Montero shot that just missed the post. The near miss seemed to liven the Crew attack, and after Steven Lenhart chased down a long pass and beat his marker, he squared it to Schelotto, whose shot was parried to Eddie Gaven, who in turn volleyed above the open net.
Soon after, a quick passing move sent Gaven through, whose weak effort went right to Keller. Ekpo, who looked dangerous on the wing, set in a brilliant cross for Gaven, but again Keller was equal to it.
Finally, in the 64th minute, Emilio Renteria came in for Kevin Burns, adding another attacker to the field. Blasie Nkufo missed a chance at a hat trick, when his effort in the 71st minute sailed high.
He would eventually get his third after Steve Zakuani beat his markers and sqaured it to Montero. Instead of taking it to goal, Montero dummied it to Nkufo, who buried the chance for his first MLS hat-trick.
The Crew's only real chance after that was in the 80th minute, when the active Gaven shot from the left, only to see the effort saved brilliantly by Kasey Keller as the ball was curling into the far corner.
One last effort for a goal by Fredy Montero was well off the mark, and at full time the Sounders embarrassed the hometown Crew by four goals to nil. The loss is the worst for the club since a 4-0 defeat to Kansas City in 2005.
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