By JOHN BOSCHINI
When it rains it pours for Blaise Nkufo. The Swiss international's first goal for Seattle turned into a hat trick as the Sounders trounced the Columbus Crew 4-0 Saturday night at Crew Stadium.
Nkufo got the scoring started early, putting home a rebound in the fourth minute to give the Sounders an early lead. Columbus pressed forward searching for an early equalizer, forcing a few class saves from Kasey Keller but Nkofu added his second in the 39th minute with a low shot into the corner. Five minutes later, Sanna Nyassi was taken down inside the box by Danny O'Rourke and a penalty was given. Nathan Sturgis put home the spot kick and the Sounders took a 3-0 lead into the break.
Nkufo completed his hat trick half an hour into the second half, sending many of the 17,000 Crew fans home early. Kasey Keller kept his tenth clean sheet of the season.
The win moves the Sounders to 36 points, five clear of ninth place Toronto FC, further cementing their playoff position. Seattle is 6-1-3 in their last 10 games and don't face another team currently in a playoff spot for the rest of the season. Columbus were unable to take advantage of New York's midweek draw and now hold a slim, three-point lead in the Eastern Conference. The Crew also sit six points behind the Galaxy in the race for the Supporters Shield following L.A.'s victory over D.C. United. It was the first four-goal defeat for the Crew since 2007, when they lost 4-0 to the New York Red Bulls.