Eddie Lewis didn't feel any more stiff or sore Monday morning, but the aches and pains still felt great to the LA Galaxy's 36-year-old midfielder.
The veteran of two World Cups and more than 80 national team caps returned to action for the first time since the 2010 season opener. Lewis played 72 minutes as the Galaxy captain in a 1-0 victory over Argentina's Boca Juniors in an international friendly at The Home Depot Center before being replaced by Todd Dunivant.
Lewis had just returned to full-time training last week after being sidelined with an injury to his left foot. Lewis said he tore the ligament from the bone "quite a long time ago," and a hard tackle in a 1-0 victory over the New England Revolution on March 27 aggravated the condition.
"The ligament won't necessarily grow back on ... a lot of scar tissue builds up over it," he said. "A couple of times over the course of my career I've torn that scar tissue back off the bone, and it takes a while to heal up. I've got a lump on there now that's probably for good."
Lewis said the team's success -- the Galaxy is 8-0-2, 10 points clear atop the Western Conference -- made his inactivity a little less frustrating.
"It's easier when you're winning games, that's for sure," he said.
"You're always disappointed when you're not playing, but it does make it a bit easier when the team is doing well. You certainly don't feel as helpless."
Nothing beats being back in the mix, he added.
"Absolutely," he said. "That's what you miss most, training every day and then the games come along. Those are obviously tough days. Not being able to train with the guys and compete with them, that's the hardest part."
The Galaxy's Chris Klein will be meeting up with an old friend in Saturday's showdown in Columbus against the unbeaten Crew.
Klein will be facing Crew goalkeeper Will Hesmer, his former teammate in Kansas City in 2004 and 2005. Hesmer was Kansas City's 17th overall draft pick out of the University of Wake Forest in 2004, and Klein quickly sensed Hesmer had special qualities. Hesmer currently has a 6-0-2 record, four shutouts and a 0.75 goals-against-average.
"Physically he commands a lot of respect in the goal," Klein said.
"He's a good shot stopper, he's very smart, he can read the game and he knows the game. When you look at their team and what they represent and why they're so difficult to break down, he's a big reason for that."
Klein, who said Hesmer played a major role during recent talks for a new collective bargaining agreement, said the 28-year-old doesn't get mentioned enough in discussions involving top MLS goalkeepers.
"I know the type of person that he is and the type of goalie that he is," Klein said. "He was always one of those guys that even when he was very young we knew that he'd be a very good goalkeeper in this league for a long time. He has the right approach mentally and physically he's very gifted.
"That makes for a very good combination for a goalie."
Galaxy defender Sean Franklin understandably has been impressed with the Crew, who top the East by five points. Columbus is led in scoring by Guillermo Barros Schelotto's four goals, but Andy Iro, Eddie Gaven and Emilio Renteria each have two. Gaven, Frankie Hedjuk and Scheletto also have two assists each.
"They're a good team," Franklin said. "I've seen some film of some of their games, and they've scored a number of goals on set pieces.
“They're just a tough opponent this week ... we have to be sharp."
Franklin, asked if this could be the best team the Galaxy have faced this season, said, "They might be. They're like us, undefeated."
LET'S GET PHYSICAL
Tristan Bowen, now in his second full season in Los Angeles, drew praise from head coach Bruce Arena for his play in Sunday's 1-0 victory over Boca Juniors.
Bowen not only scored the game-winning goal in the 83rd minute, but he also emerged unscathed from a running battle with Boca Juniors defender Breyner Bonilla, who roughed him up almost the entire match.
Bowen had the last laugh, though, when he got free from Bonilla to score the game's lone goal.
"He did a great job," Bowen said of his opponent. "Like I've always said, if we battle for 90 minutes we'll get results. He kind of wore out toward the end of the game, and I was fortunate to get in front of the goal and get one in.
"That was pretty exciting."