Crew blasts past Clash behind John

John Tonjes
Date Published: 
OSU Lantern

Saturday night the Columbus Crew unleashed a four-goal effort to send the visiting San Jose Clash home with their tails between their legs and a 4-1 loss.

Crew forward Stern John gave 10,903 fans three reasons why he is going to be a Major League Soccer star.

Reason No. 1 - a worm-burner shot to the left corner past San Jose keeper Andy Kirk in minute 62. Reason No. 2 - a rocket to the upper left hand corner past Kirk in minute 68. Reason No. 3 - a chest control followed by a right-footed boot past a charging Kirk in minute 80.

John was making his first start since May 9, when he dislocated his shoulder in the Miami Fusion game.

"Stern had an unbelievable second half," Crew coach Tom Fitzgerald said.

The hat trick was his second of the year and gives him seven goals in his last four games.

"It feels good to be back, like I said before, I'm gonna get hot," John said.

Jeff Cunningham put the Crew on the board first by taking a Billy Thompson cross and sending a shot to stretch the back of the net 27 minutes into the game.

"Cunningham and Stern John are our Caribbean connection, they're tough to stop," Crew assistant coach Greg Andrulis said.

If not for the play of Crew keeper Mark Dougherty in the first half, a 6-4 Crew loss could have been the result.

"If it wasn't for Mark's play John's goals wouldn't have been enough to win," Andrulis said.

Dougherty made one spectacular save after another in the first half as the defense struggled to defend the attacking Clash offense, led by Jeff Baicher.

"Jeff Baicher is a very good player," Fitzgerald said. "Nobody can stop Jeff one-on-one."

Baicher scored an equalizer 30 minutes into the first half by sending a shot that glanced off of Mike Clark into the open Crew net.

"You have to give credit to San Jose," Dougherty said. "They have a lot of quality players and they really took it to us in the first half."

During the first half Ansil Elcock, who was making his first start of the year as the sweeper position, had some communication problems with his two marking backs, Mike Clark and Scott Cannon.

The Crew made some defensive adjustments during the half to take the pressure off of Dougherty in the second half.

"I told my marking backs what I wanted them to do because I play a different style of sweeper than the other sweepers on the team," Elcock said.

Elcock, who is normally a midfielder, was playing in place of the injured Ricardo Iribarren.

Iribarren has tendinitis of his left patella, which may require a season-ending operation.

The win moves the Crew up to 7-5 on the year and leaves them in sole possession of second place behind D.C. United.

"It was a great win for us," Marcelo Carrera, who assisted John's second goal, said. "It keeps us going and it's a great confidence builder for us."

The Crew's next match is Saturday, where the Crew will be making their first trip to Chicago to take on the expansion Chicago Fire.