All it takes is giving up a goal for the Columbus Crew to get untracked.
For the second time in three games FC Dallas found that out Saturday as the Crew took a 2-1 win in Pizza Hut Park to move atop the overall standings in Major League Soccer.
The match followed the same outline as the teams' meeting in Columbus on Aug. 16, when Dallas got on the board first on a goal by former Crew forward Jeff Cunningham, only to see the Crew respond for two scores in three minutes for the victory.
In the most recent contest, Alejandro Moreno and Eddie Gaven scored in the 37th and 40th minutes.
"We don't get going until the other team scores a goal. That's one way to do it, I guess," Moreno said. "We showed a lot of courage. We don't give up. We have a team that has a very positive personality and a very positive attitude."
That the Crew is capable of coming back should be no surprise. Neither should the fact that forward Guillermo Barros Schelotto is the catalyst.
His two assists Saturday give him a team-record 16 and he leads the league by six in that category. In the last three matches, all wins, the Crew have seven goals and he's contributed a goal and six assists.
"He's definitely a very, very special player," Gaven said. "He has such a great impact on the game. He adds so much to this team."
Schelotto is showing why he should be the frontrunner for the league MVP award. When he gets going, the Crew get going.
It happened Saturday when his corner kick went to the head of Chad Marshall. Marshall flicked the ball toward goal and Moreno redirected it with his head to tie the match at 1-1. Shortly thereafter, Schelotto made a spin move on the right side of the box and found a charging Gaven for an easy header and the go-ahead goal.
"A perfect ball," Gaven said.
There's a reason why the Crew (12-6-4) have a two-point advantage over New England with Saturday's showdown in Columbus looming.
"We're doing well and he's a big part of it," Moreno said. "He's been playing that way for two years with us. He's a great addition."
Here are a few examples of Schelotto's magic to lift the team:
The Crew rallied from a 1-0 halftime deficit at San Jose on May 10 to take a 2-1 lead before Schelotto set up Brad Evans on a through ball for an insurance tally that proved to be the difference in a 3-2 win.
Chicago held a 2-0 lead in Crew Stadium on July 5, but Schelotto set up Emmanuel Ekpo and Steven Lenhart for goals and the Crew gained a point.
Twelve days later, it was visiting Kansas City's turn to go up 2-0 before Schelotto ignited a rally with a goal and two assists in a 12-minute span in the first half. The game ended in a 3-3 draw.
Schelotto assisted on goals by Brian Carroll and Evans in the 62nd and 65th minutes as the Crew came back from a goal down to beat Dallas on Aug. 13.
Schelotto bit the Hoops again on Saturday as the Crew surpassed last season's 37 points and recorded its fifth road win, one more than last season as the Crew moved closer to its first playoff appearance since 2004.
"This team is very focused," Moreno said. "We have goals in mind and we want to make the playoffs and to do that you have to get results like (Saturday)."
With Schelotto's guidance, the Crew lead MLS with a 9-0 record when scoring first and a 3-6-3 mark after allowing the first goal. They are also the best (2-5-2) when trailing at the half and its 9-0-1 record when ahead at halftime trails only Real Salt Lake's perfect 5-0. The Crew are also a league-best 8-1-1 in one-goal games.
"This team has a lot of character and is willing to fight for each other every single game," Moreno said.
The Crew will be tested when New England visits this week. Moreno and starting right back Frankie Hejduk will be away for national team duty, as will reserve midfielder Duncan Oughton and developmental player Ricardo Pierre-Louis.
"We're very confident whoever comes in will do the job," Gaven said.
On the positive side, Ekpo should return after missing the August matches while helping Nigeria to the silver medal at the Beijing Olympics and defender Danny O'Rourke will be back after serving a caution points suspension against Dallas.
Craig Merz is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.