After failing to hold down a regular spot with the Sounders during their first MLS season in 2009, Lamar Neagle spent a season in the second division with Charleston Battery, then returned home during the winter to give it another go.
Handed a rare start Saturday by head coach Sigi Schmid against the coach's former employer, Columbus, Neagle scored in the fourth, 21st and 70th minutes as Seattle routed the Eastern Conference leader, 6-2. Neagle's hat trick was the first scored by a Sounder in an MLS home game; last September, former Seattle striker Blaise Nkufo notched three in a victory at Columbus, which has failed to beat Seattle in all six league meetings between the teams.
Mauro Rosales,Mike Fucito and aJosh Gardner own-goal accounted for the rest of Seattle's scoring, which accounted for its highest output ever in an MLS game. Nearly obscured by the Sounders barrage wasma record 134th career goal for Jeff Cunningham, who passed Jaime Moreno on the all-time league list by converting a penalty kick early in the second half. A minute before his own goal, Gardner had scored to cut Seattle's lead to 5-2.
Neagle scored his third goal with a spectacular shot that ricocheted off the bottom ot the crossbar, rebounded over the goal line, and then bounced back into the field of play. Referee Baldomero Toledo and assistant Frank Anderson indicated a goal had been scored and television replays confirmed the decision to be correct.
Seattle (13-5-9) moves to within three points of Western Conference leader Los Angeles. It hosts FC Dallas in a U.S. Open Cup semifinal Tuesday. Columbus (11-8-7) is off this weekend and next plays Toronto FC Sept. 10.