Top dogs meet in Columbus as Crew host Galaxy

In a clash of two top-of-the-table teams, the Columbus Crew host the Los Angeles Galaxy at Crew Stadium on Saturday.

While Columbus leads the Eastern Conference with 41 points, the club is just one point ahead of the Philadelphia Union.

The Crew are a good bet to make the postseason, but a tight conference has left the team unsure of where it will finish. Only six points separates Columbus from sixth place D.C. United.

Los Angeles, meanwhile, has already clinched a spot in the 2011 MLS Cup playoffs with a league-high 58 points, but it will not be taking Saturday's game lightly.

The club is well-positioned to claim the MLS Supporters' Shield for the fourth time, which would tie the Galaxy with D.C. United for the most in league history.

Like they have been for much of the season, the Galaxy are on fire. Los Angeles is 4-0-1 in its last five MLS league matches and have not lost since a 3-0 defeat against the Portland Timbers on August 3.

The Galaxy are coming off of a 3-0 dismantling of Vancouver Whitecaps FC that saw their unbeaten streak extended to five games. New Designated Player Robbie Keane continues to become acclimated with his new team as he scored his second goal for the Galaxy in as many starts.

"We are starting to figure him out more," said Landon Donovan. "The reality is becoming very clear that if you get the ball to him in good spots in front of the goal, he is going to make plays."

Columbus has hit a bit of rough patch of late, winless in its last four and posting a 1-3-1 record in its last five MLS matches. In its last outing, it suffered a 1-0 defeat to second-place Union.

Goalkeeper Will Hesmer stresses that while qualifying for the playoffs with the top spot in the East definitely has its advantages, simply qualifying is all that matters.

"We've won the East in the past, I believe in '08 and '09," Hesmer said. "It is great to have home field advantage for that second leg, but as we've seen the past few years, it just matters getting in.

"Ideally we want to be hitting a peak when we're hitting the playoffs, so we have a few games to right the ship and start moving in a positive direction."

Columbus and Los Angeles met earlier in the season on July 20, with the Galaxy coming out on top 1-0 in that contest. Sean Franklin bagged the lone goal in the 70th minute.