Normally, the LA Galaxy wouldn't be content with walking away from a road match with one point. But Wednesday’s match against the Columbus Crew was no ordinary match.
The Crew hosted the Galaxy with heavy hearts, paying tribute to their recently-deceased rookie Kirk Urso. That the teams tied 1-1 was perhaps a fitting result and one that few complaints from the visitors.
“We could have maybe got three,” Galaxy goalscorer Robbie Keane said, “but I think with the whole situation before the game, when they had the tribute for the young lad, I think maybe overall it’s a fair result for both teams.”
Urso died on Aug. 5 and the entire MLS community has come out in support of the player, his family and the Crew since then. The young midfielder’s passing, after all, affected more than just the Columbus Crew.
“To be honest with you, I have known Kirk since I was 11 years old,” said Michael Stephens, who grew up near Urso in suburban Chicago. “I was playing with the same emotion, if there is anything. I think once you get out there, you kind of forget about it.”
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said the entire ordeal was trying for the Crew family.
“It’s certainly a very difficult situation,” he said. “We feel for the Urso family and the Crew in this sad time and tragic event. We hope that time helps heal a little bit here. That can’t be an easy situation for the family or the organization. We wish our very best to the Urso family and the Crew. Anything we can do to support them, we would certainly do that.”
With heavy hearts throughout the stadium, though, the match went on. Even from before the match, the Galaxy had to deal with a pair of key absences as neither David Beckham nor Landon Donovan played.
READ: Arena on Beckham
The club was buoyed by a dazzling performance from Sunday’s SuperClasico, a 4-0 victory over Chivas USA, but the match also was a bit of a challenge. The Galaxy boarded a flight early Monday for Columbus and entered the game with tired legs.
“It was hard to find 11 players that could play,” Arena said. “We’re pretty exhausted from Sunday night and the trip across the country as well. It’s a little on the difficult side. We knew that this part of the season was going to be a little bit of an issue, and our guys did alright.”
Neither team was able to break through in the first half, but the Crew found the back of the net early in the second. Jairo Arrieta scored two minutes after the break to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.
The Galaxy though responded. Keane continued his hot streak and bagged the equalizer in the 64th minute. Stephens played a ball over the top of Columbus’ defense to Sean Franklin, who did well to get around Josh Williams and found Keane in front of the goal. Keane easily finished the ball to give the Galaxy the tie.
Keane’s goal was his eighth in the last 12 matches and gave the club a bit of a spark. The Galaxy had several chances to take full points from the match.
“At the end of the game, we positioned ourselves to win the game and you can’t ask for much more,” Arena said. “It’s always good to get a point on the road, but we would have obviously preferred three.”