for this game

Crew grab best record in MLS, down 'Quakes

Aug 9, 2009 - 4:02 AM By GEOFF LEPPER STATS MLS Correspondent

SAN FRANCISCO (STATS) - The lineup choices up front for Columbus Crew coach Robert Warzycha are getting tougher and tougher with each passing victory.

Forward Alejandro Moreno made his case for a return to the starting lineup with a goal to break open Columbus' 3-0 victory against the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night.

Robbie Rogers scored his first goal of the season and added an assist as the Crew pulled away with three goals in the final 21 minutes. Adam Moffat also scored for Columbus, which took possession of the MLS' best record with its fourth consecutive win.

The reigning MLS Cup champion Crew (9-3-9), who have lost only once in their last 17 matches, are one point ahead of Houston, which plays Chicago on Sunday.

"I thought it definitely wasn't a 3-0 game; I thought it was closer than that," Rogers said. "But we finished our chances. That was the big difference."

Moreno has been a second-half substitute for the two matches after missing two games with a groin injury. But he showed no sign of illness in the 69th minute, when an unmarked Rogers headed a cross from Emmanuel Ekpo off the right wing.

Rogers' cross-goal pass found Moreno nestled between two San Jose defenders, and he nodded the ball just inside the near post for his fourth goal of the year.

"I'm ready to play," Moreno said. "I'm obviously healthy and feeling better. It'll be up to the coach."

Crew forward Guillermo Barros Schelotto, the league's leading scorer and reigning MVP, missed his fourth consecutive game due to a strained left hamstring, but Columbus' offense, which has been featuring young forwards Jason Garey and Steven Lenhart in the absence of Schelotto and Moreno, didn't need him.

"It doesn't matter what lineup we have on the field," Warzycha said. "They're producing and they're scoring the goals and getting results."

Warzycha wasn't so pleased at intermission, when he laced into the team after a first half in which Columbus generated just two shots on goal, neither of which were particularly dangerous.

"We talked about not creating too much offensively," Rogers said. "We weren't getting as many chances as Bobby would like, so he kind of yelled at us a little bit and tried to get us motivated and I think it worked."

Columbus struck again quickly in the 73rd minute, when Rogers dribbled in from the left side and overpowered a pair of Earthquakes before ripping a 10-yard shot past goalkeeper Joe Cannon.

"I think I just took all my frustration out on that ball," Rogers said.

Moffat finished the scoring in the 87th minute with a deflected header off a corner kick from Gino Padula.

The Earthquakes (4-11-5) earned the majority of dangerous chances in the first half, but Columbus goalkeeper William Hesmer was up to the task, including a couple of sprawling saves on attempts by Cornell Glen.

"We let in some easy goals today," Glen said. "We worked hard in the first half to keep them off the scoresheet. To see them score so easy, it's a bit hard."

It was the first MLS game played at Candlestick Park, which was hosting a doubleheader that featured Spain's Barcelona playing Mexican side Chivas Guadalajara in the nightcap.