Behind the play of MVP candidate Guillermo Barros Schelotto, the Columbus Crew downed the New England Revolution 4-0 at Crew Stadium on Saturday night, their fourth consecutive win—increasing their lead in the Eastern Conference to five points ahead of the Revolution.
Schelotto, the MLS Player of the Month for August, continued his string of contributing to Crew goals, with a goal and two assists from the first three scores. It gave him two goals and eight assists from the last 10 Crew goals.
With Schelotto resting on the bench for the final seven minutes, his streak ended when ex-Revolution midfielder Pat Noonan set up substitute forward Jason Garey for his second goal of the match in the 90th minute.
The Crew took a 2-0 lead into the break thanks to Schelotto. He put Columbus ahead in the 39th minute with his sixth strike of the season and added his league-best 17th assist in the 45th minute when his free kick was headed in by rookie defender Andy Iro for his first goal.
Columbus dominated the weary Revolution in the first half but had nothing to show for it until a sloppy play turned golden. Robbie Rogers got free down the left side and pushed a grounder into the box for first-year forward Steven Lenhart, but Lenhart was marked and the ball rolled through.
Schelotto raced in and got to the errant ball first and had a hefty strike from about eight yards that left goalkeeper Matt Reis with no chance to make the save.
Schelotto and Iro connected in stoppage time for the two-goal cushion. Schelotto lined up 25 yards left of goal and lofted a service into the box where the 6-foot-5 Iro was left open for a snap header.
The Crew had 16 of the 18 shots in the opening 45 minutes and eight of nine that were on goal.
Columbus did not let up in the second half and Garey took a pass from Schelotto off his chest, settled and put a left-footer home for his second goal of the season. The 18th assist for Schelotto moves him into a third-place tie for most in an MLS season.
New England came in battered and tired from a busy summer schedule of SuperLiga, U.S. Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League matches. Its 32nd game was a 4-0 loss Tuesday to Joe Public of Trinidad and Tobago that eliminated the Revolution from the Champions League. Meanwhile, the Crew played their 27th match in all competitions on Saturday.
The Crew were missing U.S. defender Frankie Hejduk and forward Alejandro Moreno (Venezuela) from the first 11 and the Revolution were minus starting defender Gabriel Badilla (Costa Rica) because of national team duties.
However, New England did have forward Taylor Twellman in the lineup after taking a shot to the face Aug. 30 in a collision with Los Angeles goalkeeper Steve Cronin. Twellman has been a Crew killer with nine goals, the most of any Revolution player in the rivalry.
For the Crew, Danny O'Rourke returned from suspension for yellow card accumulation to take Hejduk's place at right back. Also, Lenhart took Moreno's spot for his second start but first in five matches. He went 42 minutes against Colorado on July 27 before earning a red card and a two-game suspension for throwing an elbow. Lenhart nearly ignited the late-arriving crowd in the seventh minute after Schelotto headed the ball to him. Lenhart did a bicycle kick that Reis parried over the bar.
The Crew came close again six minutes later but the pipe proved to be the Revolution's ally twice. First, Schelotto sent a free kick from 25 yards toward the upper left corner. Reis made a leaping save but the ball smacked the crossbar and came back to Brad Evans at the edge of the goal box. His header was on target but it also kissed the bar.
New England absorbed more pressure in the 19th when Brian Carroll unleashed a strike from 19 yards that Reis had a clear vision on to makes the save. The Revolution finally had a scoring chance in the 27th with Twellman turning around Iro at the top of the penalty area before firing into the midsection of goalkeeper Will Hesmer.
Noonan made his first appearance against the Revolution in the 74th minute. His rights were obtained from New England after his return from Norway's Aalesunds FK last month. Noonan then sent a through ball to a streaking Garey to put an 90th-minute exclamation mark on the victory that saw Columbus hold a 27-4 advantage in shots, including 14-1 on goal.