for this game

Johnson leads Wizards past Red Bulls

Jun 3, 2007 - 4:48 AM KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Ticker) -- Kansas City Wizards forward Eddie Johnson has found the scoring touch.

Johnson earned his second hat trick in as many games to lead the Wizards to a 3-2 victory over the New York Red Bulls at Arrowhead Stadium.

The forward tallied in the 46th, 59th and 85th minute, in the process taking over the league lead in goals with nine. Johnson netted his first career hat trick in Kansas City's 4-3 win against the Revolution last Saturday.

"I wasn't going to be happy unless we got three points tonight," Johnson said. "The whole team helped out. It wasn't just one guy or two guys tonight and it wouldn't be happening without the hard work we put into preparing for the season."

With the victory, the Wizards (6-2-1) overtook New York (5-2-2) for first place in the Eastern Conference.

"It's still too early in the season to be thinking about (the standings)," Odolfo said. "I don't read too much into it. We're happy to have it, but we can't get too excited."

Leading 1-0, New York's bid for a third consecutive shutout ended 40 seconds into the second half.

Johnson beat two defenders to a loose ball at the top of the goal box and chipped a shot on a perfect arc over the head of netminder Jon Conway who had moved out to cut off the angle.

"I think it's instinct," Johnson said of lifting the ball over the keeper. "I saw him come off his line and that's just a little thing forwards look for. I tried to put the ball high and to the far corner because I know that makes it hard on the keeper, it's hard for them to jump and move at that angle."

The goal sparked a barrage of subsequent scoring opportunities for Kansas City, who was playing with a one-man advantage from the 36th minute on after New York's Clint Mathis was ejected for a "violent conduct" foul when he elbowed Kerry Zavagnin in the throat.

"It's unfortunate," Red Bulls Captain Claudio Reyna said. "Kerry dove and got a fellow pro sent off. It's a shame when players do that. There's no chance that's a red card. It was a big part of the reason we gave up so many goals. It changed the game - it's totally different playing 60 minutes 10 versus 11."

"You know, we could have gotten beat by the same score (if it had not been a red card)," Red Bulls Head Coach Bruce Arenas said. "Obviously, it changes things, playing a man down, but we did the same thing against Houston and we won that game, so we could have won here, too."

Michael Harrington broke in alone down the left side seconds after Johnson's tally, but his shot rolled just right of the goal. After a scoring opportunity by Sasha Victorine was deflected in the 49th minute, Conway was forced to make a tough save on Davy Arnaud's bid.

Conway had little chance to stop Johnson's second goal of the game.

Jose Burciaga Jr. dribbled down the left side and sent a cross to the front of the net. The pass cleared the first wave of players rushing toward the net and came directly to Johnson, who was wide open on the right side of the goal. Conway could only dive in desperation as Johnson drilled a shot into the net with his right foot.

"(Johnson is) focusing on things that matter, on being dangerous," Wizards' coach Curt Odolfo said. "He's playing with great confidence and when he does that he can be hard to stop."

Johnson completed the hat trick on a break away beating Conway with a rolling shot to left side of the goal that gave the Wizards a 3-1 lead. Though league officials could not confirm it immediately after the game, the back-to-back hat tricks is believed to be an MLS first.

"I really feel like I'm in the zone," Johnson said. "I know what I can do. I'm working at finishing the shots and I'm trying to stay calm at the front of the goal. When you're in the zone, you're in the zone, and right now I'm in the zone. I'm so mentally tough and strong right now. My faith and pride are strong."

Unfortunately for the Wizards, Johnson leaves Sunday for the U.S. National Team and is expected to be gone for at least a month.

"I'm excited to be part of the U.S. team," Johnson said. "But I'm going to miss this. I'm the hot guy scoring goals right now, but this team has a lot of great forwards and it'll show our character over the next few weeks."

Dema Kovalenko scored his first goal of the season for New York in the 87th minute to cut the lead to one, but the Red Bulls did not tally again.

The Red Bulls opened the scoring just eight minutes into regulation. John Wolyniec sent a cross toward the goal from the right side which was redirected on a header by Reyna and then booted in by Juan Pablo Angel, who picked up his fourth tally of the season.

Conway made six saves in the loss while his counterpart Kevin Hartman made one stop.