4:54 Optimism is in the air here at Crew Stadium as Columbus prepares to face the Los Angeles Galaxy. The crowd is large, the weather is perfect and the stage is set for the Crew to push back into playoff position. Despite a few replica Beckham jerseys here and there, the crowd seems to have heeded the Crew's instructions to "black out the Galaxy." Even with Beckham-the reason for all this fanfare-injured and absent, this feels like it could be a memorable day in Crew history.

4:54 Optimism is in the air here at Crew Stadium as Columbus prepares to face the Los Angeles Galaxy. The crowd is large, the weather is perfect and the stage is set for the Crew to push back into playoff position. Despite a few replica Beckham jerseys here and there, the crowd seems to have heeded the Crew’s instructions to “black out the Galaxy.” Even with Beckham—the reason for all this fanfare—injured and absent, this feels like it could be a memorable day in Crew history.

5:02 Galaxy starters: Joe Cannon, Chris Klein, Ty Harden, Troy Roberts, Mike Randolph (who are these guys?), Cobi Jones, Josh Tudela, Peter Vagenas, Kyle Martino, Landon Donovan, Alan Gordon.

5:03 Crew starters: Will Hesmer, Frankie Hejduk, Marcos Gonzalez, Ezra Hendrickson, Ned Grabavoy, Danny O’Rourke, Duncan Oughton, Eddie Gaven, Andy Herron, Jason Garey, Alejandro Moreno. Rockin’ the 3-5-2!

5:04 They’re honoring Galaxy midfielder Cobi Jones, who is making his last appearance at Crew Stadium today. My entire generation remembers him from the cover of Sports Illustrated for Kids that previewed World Cup USA ’94.

5:07 We have kickoff.

5:09 That was quick! Herron plays a glorious cross to the head of Moreno, who heads it home with force. What a way to win over all the Crew newbies!

5:11 Can I just say I really like this Crew lineup? I don’t even know who to take out when Guillermo Barros Schelotto returns to the starting lineup. I guess Jason Garey, but he’s been playing well lately.

5:15 Practically a replay of the first goal, but Moreno and Gaven can’t quite decide who wants to finish, so nobody does. Still, it is truly a beautiful thing when Andy Herron is on.

5:17 Upon further examination, this might not be a 3-5-2 formation. Danny O’Rourke seems to be playing left back. Given his defensive prowess and his offensive… lack of prowess… this might not be a bad idea.

5:18 Gaven and Herron go crashing ahead, but the ref penalize

5:19 Press box chatter wonders why Galaxy goalie Cannon is allowed to wear a jersey that looks so much like the Crew’s uniform.

5:20 They’re calling it a Galaxy goal… and yeah, upon replay, I guess so. Troy Roberts careens into the middle of a goalmouth scuffle, powers through Hejduk and trickles the ball past Hesmer, whose backwards dive into the net fails to save the score.

5:23 And with that, the Galaxy goes up 2-1. And in the worst possible way. Martino powers through Hejduk (noticing a trend here?) and turns into a low, left-leaning shot. Goal.

5:25 They’re bringing out the stretcher for Alan Gordon. Here comes Gavin Glinton as a substitute.

5:26 Apparently I missed when LA’s Tudela picked up a yellow card after their first goal.

5:27 Suddenly the Crew is looking much less inspired. Let’s hope they don’t just wither away.

5:28 Here comes Hejduk in an offensive blaze. Apparently he wants to make up for his awful defending thus far.

5:30 Good win there by Garey. Now score a goal, son.

5:31 The Wave has hit Crew Stadium. Hoo-ray.

5:32 A dangerous Crew free kick skims off Garey’s head. I’ll blame the placement of the cross.

5:33 Gaven pulls a little Kerry Zavagnin action to win another deep free kick for Columbus.

5:34 “How ‘bout that shot?!” says Dwight Burgess from the TV, and yes, Grabavoy’s idea to shoot directly from the free kick is a good one. It doesn’t quite result in a goal, though. I’d like to see the Crew do more direct shots off of free kicks. Oh, and that was the Crew’s first shot since they scored in the second minute.

5:35 Another nice hustle play from Garey, turning a goal kick into a deep Galaxy throw-in. Too bad the Crew lets them get back on the attack, where Donovan’s skips one high off his receding hairline.

5:38 Great ball from Grabavoy. The ensuing attack/throw-in/attack leads to a Crew corner kick. Gaven lofts it to the far post, Herron heads it back to the center and Grabavoy’s volley skims wide right.

5:40 Looks like another close free kick for the Crew…They’ve got a three-man committee standing over the ball. Grabavoy lofts it, but Cannon snags the cross away from the charging Crew heads.

5:42 LA blasts forward with another flurry of attacks.

5:43 Oughton hacks Martino and sets up a Galaxy free kick from the left flank.

5:44 Donovan’s cross is good, but the Crew holds down the fort.

5:45 The Crew almost pays the ultimate price for a series of defensive miscues. Tragedy is averted.

5:47 Holy cow! How did the Galaxy not score there? Back on the other end, Gaven tries a long blast, but his shot ends up dipping right into Cannon’s arms.

5:48 The Crew’s defense is putting on a wild, wacky and potentially heart-attack inducing show. Let’s call it entertainment!

5:49 Herron schools Mike Randolph not once but twice. Too bad it doesn’t result in a good cross.

5:52 Great, marvelous, absolutely perfect ball from Gaven to a streaking Hejduk. Sets up a corner kick. But no dice when it comes to goals.

5:54 More than a minute into stoppage time, another Crew corner kick. Again, no luck.

5:55 Halftime.

6:17 Six minutes into half two, here’s what has happened: The Crew fought off a close-range LA free kick and the Crew missed out on what should have been a PK chance.

6:19 The Crew wall gets a piece of LA’s latest free kick, sending the ball straight to Hesmer.

6:20 Jacob Thomas is coming on for Herron. Meanwhile, Moreno’s turn-and-shoot at the six yard line fails to connect.

6:23 Quite a collision between Moreno and his defender in the box. It results in a Crew corner kick.

6:24 Columbus fails to score but looks promising on the corner kick. Can they net two more? If they do, this place is going crazy.

6:27 NICE set of passes to work the ball downfield, but Thomas squanders it with an awkward touch. Crew maintains possession, though.

6:29 A rare offensive flourish from Gonzalez leaves the Crew D exposed, but enough guys track back to douse the Galaxy attack. Also, Stefani Miglioranzi is coming in for Grabavoy. I hope Sigi knows what he’s doing.

6:31 Gaven is playing a lot of sweet balls. This time it’s to Thomas, who is ruled offside (wrongfully, from what I can tell).

6:32 Hejduk goes flying, which means a yellow card for Martino.

6:33 The Crew can’t convert the resulting free kick.

6:34 Danny O’Rourke: Not the best crosser of the soccer ball. Then: another Crew corner kick goes awry.

6:35 Thomas’s off-target long-distance blast gets past not one but two sprawling Crew attackers.

6:36 LA sub: Martino out, Kevin Harmse in.

6:37 Another Crew free kick, another missed chance. Ezra heads it down at Joe Cannon.

6:38 Let’s line up another corner kick. One of these has to work… not this one, though.

6:42 There’s some strange refereeing in this here league…

6:43 Here comes the Crew’s last hope, Kei Kamara, in for Garey. Sorry, Jason.

6:46 Aaaaand it’s another Crew corner kick. It’s in the air… and through the box.

6:49 If Kei Kamara would have shot on the first touch, this would be a tie game. Instead we get another Crew corner kick… and Kamara’s header is off the crossbar!

6:51 Five minutes left. More fireworks from Kei, but still nothing that counts on the scoreboard.

6:52 Cobi Jones is going to take his sweet time coming out of the game. Ante Jazic is coming in.

6:56 Three minutes stoppage time. The Crew is going to need to pull what Kansas City pulled against them earlier this month.

6:57 A flying header fails to connect.

6:58 Galaxy dribbles to the corner. Crew regains possession. Lots of pussyfooting. Long ball goes off Ezra’s head.

6:59 You know those inspirational sports moments when a team musters all its strength and pulls something magical from deep within? This isn’t one of those.