Work in Sports
COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ticker) -- The Columbus Crew forced a decisive third game in the Eastern Conference finals with a 5-1 rout of D.C. United as Stern John recorded the second playoff hat trick in MLS history.
John scored three times in the second half to join Raul Diaz Arce, who had three goals for United against Tampa Bay in 1996, as the only players with postseason hat tricks.
D.C. struck first as Roy Lassiter ended his playoff scoring drought in the seventh minute. Crew defender Ansil Elcock's clearing attempt ended up at Lassiter's feet five yards from the goal and the veteran had no trouble sliding the ball past goalkeeper Mark Dougherty.
Elcock atoned for his mistake by scoring the equalizer in the 20th minute. Midfielder Andy Williams, earning a start in Game Two after an effective stint off the bench in the series opener, sent a perfect pass to spring Elcock into the box. He slid the ball past 'keeper Tom Presthus.
"One of the big differences was Andy Williams in the middle. He had a superb game," Columbus coach Tom Fitzgerald said.
Crew striker Jeff Cunningham continued his outstanding playoff run, scoring his third postseason goal to put Columbus ahead in the 41st minute. He finished off Williams' pass down the right side with a low shot from 20 yards that beat Presthus to the far corner.
John gave the Crew a two-goal cushion early in the second half, scoring his third postseason goal in the 48th minute. He finished off a long pass from defender Todd Yeagley, beating Presthus with a low, hard shot from 15 yards.
Robert Warzycha sent a strong corner kick into the box to set up John's second goal in the 61st minute. The Trinidad-born forward headed in his fourth playoff goal from five yards.
John completed his hat trick in the 84th minute as he took a pass from Brian McBride into the box and dribbled around Presthus.
Game Three is Saturday at Washington, where the Crew have never won a game.