It was emotional for both players and fans alike. Tributes for the late Kirk Urso could be found all over Crew Stadium on Wednesday night. The masses gathered to celebrate Urso’s life and watch their hometown team. Columbus took the lead quickly after the half, but a goal by the Galaxy’s only present Designated Player ended the game in a 1-1 tie.
The Crew lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. The defense remained the same from the previous weeks. Cole Grossman slotted back into the starting lineup after a one-game suspension beside Chris Birchall in the holding midfielder positions. Dilly Duka and Eddie Gaven started on the wings, with Milovan Mirosevic playing in the center as a withdrawn forward. Jairo Arrieta started up top.
Los Angeles lined up in a 4-2-2. Both Landon Donovan and David Beckham were absent. Donovan was playing for the U.S. national team in their historic 1-0 win against Mexico in Estadio Azteca. Beckham was returning from the closing ceremony of the London Olympics and wasn’t with the team.
Columbus dominated the first half, creating the majority of the scoring possibilites. Birchall and Eddie Gave were some of the biggest threats but were unable to finish any of their chances. While the first half ended scoreless, the real highlight was the minute of silence for Kirk Urso from 15:00-15:59 followed by a bagpipe-lead rendition of “Amazing Grace” and multiple tifo displays throughout the stadium.
Within two minutes of the second half, the Crew took the lead. Sebastian Miranda played a long ball down the right side of the field. After hitting a Galaxy defender, Jairo Arrieta collected the ball. Arrieta weaved his way to the top of the box before letting off a low, left-footed shot that didn’t have much pace behind it. Galaxy netminder Josh Saunders was able to get his hands on it but only managed to help the ball into the side netting. Saunders probably should have made the save, as evident by his frustration upon the ball rolling into goal.
It would have been fitting for the Crew to end the game with the full three points. However, Los Angeles equalized in the 64th minute. Sean Franklin nutmegged Dilly Duka near the right side of the box, beating him in the process. Franklin dribbled toward the goal and sent in a low cross. Robbie Keane, timing his run just right to beat Chad Marshall’s attempt at an offside trap, met the cross right in front of goal and simply side footed the ball into the roof of the net.
A late stoppage-time push by L.A. had the Crew scrambling to keep the game level. Miranda cleared the ball as it was heading toward an empty goal, and goalie Andy Gruenebaum pushed a low shot from Jose Villarreal wide of the post.
Eddie Gaven almost ended the somber night in dramatic fashion, but his lunging half-volley attempt from the top of the box fizzled just past the right post, ending the game with both teams knotted together, 1-1.