Jeff Cunningham and the Columbus Crew are at the top of the Eastern Conference.
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First-place Crew face Earthquakes

and scored his sixth goal in the last four games -- midway through the second half when he converted from the penalty spot after referee Mark Geiger ruled Galaxy striker Arturo Torres had handled a cross in the area.

  • With Frankie Hejduk away on international duty with the USA, Crew coach Greg Andrulis made one change to the team that drew 1-1 away with the MetroStars the previous weekend. Tony Sanneh made his first appearance since returning to the league, coming into the center of midfield as Duncan Oughton moved to right wingback for Hejduk.
  • Here's Andrulis's team (3-5-2): Jon Busch - Nelson Akwari, Robin Fraser, Chad Marshall - Duncan Oughton, Tony Sanneh (Manny Lagos 82), Ross Paule, Simon Elliott, Chris Wingert - Kyle Martino (Jeff Cunningham 57), Edson Buddle (Michael Ritch 65).
  • "You don't want to be the guy who ruins it for everybody," Sanneh said. "I was a little surprised how good a team we are possession-wise. We don't quite have the speed like the great D.C. teams I was on, or a real playmaker, but everyone's comfortable with the ball. That allows us to play in somewhat the same way where we can just hold it and systematically break teams down."
  • Paule's hat trick was the eighth in Crew club history, the first in more than three seasons, since Dante Washington hit for a trifecta on June 6, 2001 v Tampa Bay Mutiny. Paule was named the MLS Player of the Week for his performance, in balloting by the Professional Soccer Reporters Association.
  • His four-game goal-scoring streak (three of his six goals coming from the penalty spot) also coincides with his wearing of protective headgear on the field, to guard against another concussion. Paule suffered his third concussion on Aug. 8, returned to the lineup 10 days later with the headgear, and has hit for goals in each game since.
  • "It's scary," Paule said. "Every time I go out there, there's a chance I might get another concussion. If I get one more or a couple more, I could be done. That's in my head. I've got to not think about it."