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A Big Night Pregame Becomes a Big Win Post game for the Columbus Crew

The Crew recorded their biggest win of the season on Saturday as Justin Meram and Ethan Finlay led the way for a 4-1 win over the Galaxy.

Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

On a night with more story lines than are countable, Justin Meram and Ethan Finlay stole the show. Both Columbus Crew players registered a goal and an assist on the way to a 4-1 win for the Black and Gold.

After a pregame ceremony honoring Landon Donovan, who announced his retirement at the conclusion of the season last week, the Crew went to work on what will go down as their best performance of the season to date.

It wasn't just the four goals they hung on MLS' best defense, which hadn't conceded more than two goals all season, but it was the way Columbus played. Whether it was matching up with the Galaxy, the pregame festivities, or just a desire to correct the errors of a week ago, the Black and Gold came out prepared to go toe-to-toe with one of the league's best sides.

Both teams looked to play an attacking style of soccer in the first half, making for an entertaining opening 45 minutes.

Finlay began his barrage on former Crew midfielder, now LA left back, Robbie Rogers in the 10th minute when he found space a placed a ball on the head of forward Adam Bedell. The 6'7" giant got a solid redirect, but couldn't put his shot on target.

Six minutes later, the danger came from the opposite flank courtesy of a one-touch volley from left back Waylon Francis. His pass put Meram in behind the Galaxy defense, but his shot was right into goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.

Crew netminder Steve Clark kept his team from conceding early and often, stopping shot after shot. He denied Omar Gonzalez on a header from a corner 18 minutes in and came off his line to collect a cheeky Robbie Keane ball to Stefan Ishizaki a minute later.

Meram began the big day in the 24th minute, pushing towards the middle of the field to collect the ball. The midfielder dribbled into traffic before spinning away from pressure and curling a shot from the top of the 18-yard box into the net for a much-needed first goal of the match.

Less than 10 minutes later, Meram was at it again, this time providing the helper for Finlay. After a dummy from Higuain opened space for Meram to dribble, the winger found his counterpart making a diagonal run into the box. The rest was Finlay, who continued his incredible season with a rip off the crossbar and over the line.

LA went into the locker room at the break down 2-0, but not without chances. It didn't take them long to respond in the second half, finding an equalizer just four minutes in from the constant goal scoring foot of Gyasi Zardes.

Once the Black and Gold regrouped, the game was back to the fast pace of the first stanza, but with Columbus hitting the Galaxy on the counterattack.

Federico Higuain and second half substitute Aaron Schoenfeld came close - Higuain's half volley was punched over and Shoenfeld's rocket struck the post - but neither could increase the lead.

It wasn't until the introduction of midfielder Ben Speas in the 74th minute that the sellout crowd of 20, 729 got to see a third goal. Just 40 seconds after checking in, Speas took a controlling touch in the box from an Finlay pass and placed it in the corner for the 3-1 lead.

LA almost pulled one back in the 81st minute when Keane got to the end line and fired a low cross in front of the Crew goal. Zardes was in the right place at the right time, but struck out with a swing and a miss.

Columbus added the final touches on the night from a corner kick. The man nicknamed Pipa - Higuain - found Pipo - Giancarlo Gonzalez - for a header and his first goal of the season.

The Black and Gold finish up their three game home stand next Saturday, as they welcome the Houston Dynamo to town in a battle for position in the Eastern Conference.