COLUMBUS – On an evening filled with sorrow from the onset, Columbus and LA battled to a 1-1 draw in the Crew’s first match since the unexpected death of rookie midfielder Kirk Urso on Aug. 5.
Jairo Arrieta gave Columbus (8-8-5) the lead in the 47th minute with his third goal in five games with the Crew, but Robbie Keane equalized in the 64th. It was left to goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum to preserve the deadlock as he denied a wicked strike from LA’s Jose Villarreal in the second minute of stoppage time.
The Galaxy (11-11-4) were without Landon Donovan, who was with the US men's national team for its friendly Wednesday at Mexico, as well as David Beckham. The Englishman was given the night off after returning from the closing ceremonies for the London Olympics on Sunday.
Columbus honored Urso's memory both with a wreath and picture in the stadium plaza and with a pregame ceremony including a video of his highlights with the Crew and the University of North Carolina. The Crew players also wore black warm-up shirts with a gold encircled “KU” on the front and his No. 15 on the back. The game jerseys had a No. 15 arm band and patch and 15 was painted on the field.
Finally, in the 15th minute, the stadium went silent before the sound of “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes completed the two-minute observance. The Nordecke supporters' group also unveiled a tifo with “Kirk Urso, 1990-2012. Forever Massive.”
And in the midst of all this, the Crew rose to the occasion.
After an unsuccessful barrage of shots – nine in eight minutes – to complete the opening period, Arrieta made something out of nothing just minutes after the restart to give the Crew the lead.
He took the ball on the right wing and cut toward the middle past several Galaxy players before firing with his less-favored left foot from the top of the arc, and Josh Saunders could not get enough on the rolling shot to keep it out of the net.
Keane equalized after a crafty setup by Sean Franklin, who nutmegged Dilly Duka then sent his pass past Carlos Mendes and Chad Marshall for the easy finish and goal No. 11 on the season for the Irish international.
Columbus parlayed their emotions into first-half dominance everywhere but the scoreboard where poor finishing, bad luck and stellar play from goalkeeper Josh Saunders kept the match at zero.
Arrieta, Sebastian Miranda, Cole Grossman and former Galaxy Chris Birchall had unmarked shots miss the target in the opening 37 minutes.
Birchall finally tested Saunders two minutes later from 40 yards out to start a series of opportunities. Mirosevic and Gaven were both denied by solid saves from Saunders, while Josh Williams smacked the post and Mirosevic had another effort deflected.
Columbus made one change from their loss to D.C. United on Aug. 4 – midfielder Cole Grossman returned from a red-card suspension to replace Justin Meram.
More moves are on the offing for the Crew. Designated Player Federico Higuain arrived Wednesday morning from Argentina and was at the match. He is expected to debut Sunday at Houston.
Columbus will now look ahead to a Sunday trip to Houston and the possible debut of Designated Player Federico Higuaín. The Galaxy host FC Dallas on Sunday Aug. 26.