With a bit of Federico Higuain magic and another brace from the league's-leading goalscorer in Kei Kamara, Columbus Crew SC made a statement to MLS with a 3-2 win over the Seattle Sounders at MAPFRE Stadium.
Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid told reporters Friday that he expected a wide-open affair, and the players seemed to have the same kind of match in mind. For much of the match, space was easy to come by, especially for Columbus on the flanks.
That space hurt Seattle for the first time in Columbus' opener. Waylon Francis had plenty of time to control the ball on the left side, and whipped a perfect cross onto the head of Kamara, who outjumped Chad Marshall in the Seattle defender's first match back in Columbus.
The United States national team captain found space near the top of the Columbus box, turned and curled an unstoppable left-footed shot off of the diving Steve Clark's left post and into goal to level the match in the 24th minute.
But Crew SC's own Designated Player wouldn't be outdone.
In the midst of a Columbus onslaught to begin the second half, Higuain and Ethan Finlay took a short corner that gave the Argentinian the ball near the corner of Seattle's penalty area. Rather than take an early shot, the Crew SC playmaker burst into the box, slashed past several Sounders and slammed a shot into a helpless Stefan Frei's goal.
Crew SC would maintain the early second half intensity with another goal just moments later to put the match seemingly out of reach.
It was Kamara again in the 58th minute , when Justin Meram beat Brad Evans down the left wing and slid a ball across to Hector Jimenez, who found Kamara all by himself for an easy second goal of the night.
With the brace, Kamara leapt to the top of the MLS goal leaderboard, but he was not there alone for very long.
Seattle and Dempsey weren't going away quietly.
In the 75th minute, Gonzalo Pineda faked a shot from the top of the Crew SC box but instead chipped a pass over the Columbus back line, who had largely turned their heads. When the ball dropped, it fell directly to the feet of Martins, who had a shot saved and deflected directly to the feet of Dempsey for an easy finish. The goal tied Dempsey with Kamara at the top of the MLS goal charts.
Crew SC players and fans loudly protested the goal, pleading enthusiastically to referee Edvin Jurisevic and the linesman for an offside call that wasn't given. During the dispute, a scuffle nearly broke out at midfield between Pineda and Kamara, who each received a yellow card.
But the score would stand, giving Columbus a marquee win to improve to 4-3-2 an dropping the Sounders to 5-3-1.
Crew SC will travel to to San Jose to face the Earthquakes next Saturday night while the Sounders will stay on the road and face Cascadia rivals Vancouver on the same night.