The Columbus Crew soundly defeated the Los Angeles Galaxy by a score of 3-0 on a cold and dreary evening as the visitors had no answer for the Black & Gold's new strike force, Edson Buddle opening each half with a goal and Ante Razov finishing off the scoring.
Cold, snow and rain greeted the two teams for the MLS season opener, but the hometown were hot from the start as they dominated much of the early possession. The Crew extended their league unbeaten streak to 19 games with the victory, as they completed the 2004 regular season with a record 18-game undefeated run.
The Crew's early pressure nearly paid off in just the fourth minute. Razov was fouled by Chris Albright just outside the penalty box and he fired the resulting free kick over the Galaxy wall only to be denied by Kevin Hartman, who turned it onto his right-hand post.
The Crew still managed to take the early lead in the eighth minute. Manny Lagos played a dangerous cross in front of the Los Angeles goal, where an unmarked Buddle was able to place the ball inside the far post with a glancing header from the near side of the goal.
The Galaxy got their first good scoring in the 14th minute as Cobi Jones beat the Crew's offside trap. Jones played a great low ball to Guillermo Ramirez, but he blasted the ball over Jon Busch's net from 20 yards.
After sustained Galaxy possession, the Black & Gold countered with a quick attack in the 40th minute. Captain Robin Fraser cleared the ball from the back Razov who skimmed a header to Kyle Martino. Martino played it back to Razov, but his shot was deflected. Razov then headed the subsequent corner kick over the target.
Columbus began the second half with a similar quick start as in the first. Simon Elliott was fouled near the corner of the penalty box, and Razov swerved in the restart to the back post. Buddle, again unmarked, nicked the ball past Hartman with his left boot in the 47th minute.
Buddle became the 17th player to open the season with at least two goals. Only one -- Jason Kreis -- has hit for a hat trick on Opening Day (in 1999, for Dallas against Kansas City).
The Galaxy had their best attack of the night three minutes later. A Fraser foul gave the Galaxy a dangerous free kick from 22 yards and Ramirez struck a good shot to the Busch's lower right, but the 'keeper was able to corral the strike.
Four minutes later, the Crew further extended their lead. Danny Szetela attempted to find Buddle for the hat trick, but Galaxy defender Michael Umana beat Buddle to the ball. Unfortunately for the visitors, the ball went directly to Razov, who calmly finished with his right foot to extend the lead.
Now with the three-goal advantage, the Crew appeared content holding possession in order to limit the Galaxy's scoring chances. The Galaxy never seemed in hurry to attack despite the large deficit. Rebuilt by coach Steve Sampson, in his first full season in charge, the visitors looked rather disorganized in the back as they left Buddle wide open on both of his goals.
U.S. international star Landon Donovan, who was acquired by the Galaxy on Thursday, was held out of the match with the flu.
The Los Angeles Galaxy open the home portion of their schedule with a match against Real Salt Lake on Saturday at the Home Depot Center. The Columbus Crew travel to New England to play the Revolution on the same evening.
MLS Man of the Match: Edson Buddle (Columbus Crew)
John Kuhn is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
Los Angeles Galaxy (0-1-0) vs. Columbus Crew (1-0-0)
April 2, 2005 -- Columbus Crew Stadium
CLB -- Edson Buddle 1 (Manny Lagos 1) 8
CLB -- Edson Buddle 2 (Ante Razov 1) 47
CLB -- Ante Razov 1 (unassisted) 54
Los Angeles Galaxy -- Kevin Hartman, Chris Albright, Tyrone Marshall, Michael Umana (Pablo Chinchilla 59), Todd Dunivant, Paulo Nagamura, Guillermo Ramirez, Peter Vagenas, Cobi Jones (Joseph Ngwenya 67), Jovan Kirovski, Paul Broome (Mubarike Chisoni 46).
Substitutes Not Used: Steve Cronin, Ned Grabavoy.
TOTAL SHOTS: 14 (Guillermo Ramirez 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (3 tied with 1); FOULS: 17 (Chris Albright 4); OFFSIDES: 4 (Jovan Kirovski 2); CORNER KICKS: 6 (Jovan Kirovski 6); SAVES: 3 (Kevin Hartman 3)
Columbus Crew -- Jon Busch, Mark Schulte, Robin Fraser (Ryan Kelly 87), Chad Marshall, Danny Szetela, Simon Elliott, Manny Lagos, Kyle Martino, David Testo (Domenic Mediate 77), Edson Buddle, Ante Razov (Knox Cameron 88).
Substitutes Not Used: Frankie Hejduk, Matt Jordan, Marcus Storey, Jamal Sutton, Eric Vasquez, Dante Washington.
TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Ante Razov 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Ante Razov 3); FOULS: 16 (3 tied with 3); OFFSIDES: 7 (Edson Buddle 3, Ante Razov 3); CORNER KICKS: 2 (Simon Elliott 2); SAVES: 3 (Jon Busch 3)
LA -- Michael Umana (caution; Professional Foul) 26
CLB -- Robin Fraser (caution; Professional Foul) 43
Referee: Mark Geiger
Referee's Assistants: -Robert Fereday; Richard Eddy
4th Official: Terry Vaughn
Time of Game: 1:48
All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.