Taylor Twellman dealt the Columbus Crew a crushing blow on Saturday night when he recorded a natural hat trick to lead the New England Revolution to a dominant 3-1 victory at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Twellman took over the lead for the Budweiser Golden Boot with 14 goals on the campaign while also calling an abrupt halt to the Crew's three-game winning streak.
The Revs also tied the club record for wins in a season with 15 (they also had 15 in 1996 and 1997) and are all but assured a spot in the 2005 MLS Cup Playoffs. The Crew, on the other hand, were rarely able to get into the attacking third and now find themselves in a deep hole at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with only seven games left this season.
The Revolution, and particularly Twellman, came out swinging. After only six minutes the St. Louis native had the home side in front. After a corner kick was poorly cleared by the Crew, Revs' midfield workhorse Joe Franchino won the ball back for New England in the center of the field. His quick wide pass found Pat Noonan on the right, and his perfectly weighted cross was hammered home by his strike partner with an unstoppable diving header.
Twellman was inches away from doubling the lead five minutes later, but his deflected shot from the top of the box was touched onto the left post and out of danger by Crew goalkeeper Jonny Walker.
Revs 'keeper Matt Reis made his first save of the match at the half-hour mark, plucking a curling Danny Szetela effort out of the air. That save earned Reis a spot in the Revolution record books as the all-time leader for the club in saves with 208.
His counterpart Walker was called upon to make a save in the next minute, and he was fortune not to give up another goal to Twellman, making the first save and watching the deflection off of the goal scorer's shins trickle just wide of the left post.
Clint Dempsey had two chances for New England in the second part of the half, but he failed to convert with a gaping net in front of him and also saw his turning shot from inside the area smothered by Walker. Twellman, however, created something out of nothing six minutes before the break to score his second.
He collected a cross that was nodded on by Dempsey, spun past Chad Marshall at the far post and toe-poked the ball into the far corner to send Steve Nicol's side into the locker room with a 2-0 lead.
Twellman then put the game out of reach with just under a half-hour to play when he completed his hat trick. Jay Heaps crossed into the danger zone from the right wing and Twellman simply beat Crew defender Robin Fraser to the high ball and redirected it high into the corner, giving Walker virtually no chance.
New England continued to run at Columbus for the remainder of the game, while the Crew were usually left chasing in an effort to win possession. Steve Ralston, Andy Dorman and Daniel Hernandez all had chances to extend the Crew's misery, but none could find the back of the net.
Frankie Hejduk got the consolation goal for Columbus with fewer than five minutes to play. The U.S. national team defender got his head to a Simon Elliott free kick and powered it home nicely into the upper right corner of the net.
Both teams will return to action in one week's time to take on Eastern Conference rivals in games that could have opposite effects in terms of MLS Cup Playoffs. The Revolution can almost guarantee themselves a spot in the postseason with three points on the road against the MetroStars, while the Crew host the Chicago Fire in a must-win game for the Ohio side.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Taylor Twellman (New England Revolution)
Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.