COLUMBUS — Rookie midfielder Michael Stephens had his first career goal in the 10th minute to stake LA to the lead and Donovan Ricketts made four saves for his ninth shutout as the Galaxy beat the Crew 2-0 in a battle of the top teams.
Tristan Bowen also had his first MLS goal as he added an insurance tally in the 87th minute on LA’s first shot in 67 minutes.
The Galaxy were outshot 21-3, and the Crew had all 15 corner kicks, but in the end, the visitors withstood the onslaught for three points.
LA (9-0-2) has allowed two goals overall and none while going 5-0-1 on the road. They have not lost in 14 regular season games (11-0-3) since losing to the Crew on Sept. 26.
The Crew (6-1-2) saw their four-game home winning streak snapped before a season-high 18,139 fans in Crew Stadium
It was the latest two unbeaten teams have met in MLS history. In 2000, LA and Kansas City had not lost when they met in the eighth game and played to a scoreless draw.
The Crew had 15 straights shots until Bowen took a feed from Chris Klein and slotted the ball past William Hesmer.
The Galaxy played their second match without U.S. World Cup players Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle, the team’s leaders in assists and goals, respectively, but it didn’t matter.
Los Angeles let the Crew do all the attacking in the early going then pounced on their first opportunity in the 10th minute with precision. Jovan Kirovski started the play by getting the ball down to Chris Birchall at the right edge of the penalty area. As the defense shifted, the Trinidad international sent a cross backdoor to an unmarked Stephens, and the rookie from UCLA struck a volley from 10 yards that went into the lower left corner.
The “other” Donovan, Ricketts, kept the Galaxy in front with a save on Steven Lenhart’s header from 8 yards in the 15th minute.
Another Crew miscue nearly resulted in the Galaxy taking a 2-0 lead in the 20th minute. Andy Iro and Hesmer appeared to have a miscommunication in front of the goal and Stephens stepped into the loose ball and nearly knocked Hesmer over with his shot but he was able to block the attempt.
The Crew kept coming in waves but could not find the equalizer. Lenhart had a half volley from Guillermo Barros Schelotto sail well over the crossbar in minute 39. Lenhart was particularly active and after shirking a defender at the top of the box elected to pass to Adam Moffat instead of taking a shot two minutes later. Moffat had no power behind the drive and Ricketts made an easy stop.
Columbus did everything but score. They came closest late in the game. Andy Iro’s header hit the right post in the 77th minute. Less than a minute later Jason Garey put the ball into the net after a scramble, but he was ruled offside.
Chad Marshall and midfielder Robbie Rogers started in their first games back after not making the final American World Cup roster earlier in the week. But they could do nothing to stop the juggernaut that is the Galaxy—MLS’ last remaining undefeated side.
LA – Michael Stephens 1 (Chris Birchall, Jovan Kirovski) 10’
LA – Tristan Bowan 1 (Chris Klein) 87’
LA – Omar Gonzalez (Caution: Unsporting behavior) 25th’
LA – A.J. DeLaGarza (Caution: Reckless tackle) 29’
CLB – Jed Zayner (Caution: Reckless foul) 35’
LA – Mike Birchall (Caution: Reckless foul) 78’
LA – Todd Dunivant (Caution: Reckless tackle) 90’
LOS ANGELES – Donovan Ricketts; A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez, Gregg Berhalter, Todd Dunivant; Sean Franklin (Chris Klein, 83’), Jovan Kirovski, Chris Birchall (Brian Jordan, 83’), Michael Stephens; Mike Magee (Clint Mathis, 65’), Tristan Bowen.
COLUMBUS – William Hesmer; Jed Zayner, Andy Iro, Chad Marshall, Gino Padula (Emilio Renteria, 60’); Brian Carroll, Adam Moffat (Emmanuel Ekpo, 69’), Eddie Gaven, Robbie Rogers; Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Steven Lenhart (Jason Garey, 74’).
Referee: Michael Kennedy
Referee's Assistants: Claudio Badea, Brian Poeschel
4th Official: Hilario Grajeda
Weather: 83 and sunny