Soccer: Stars of the Galaxy

Chris DeVille, Columbus Alive

With the best team in MLS traveling here from Los Angeles this Saturday, the Crew is hosting its fifth annual "Black Out the Galaxy" promotion, humorously advertised on the billboard outside Crew Stadium as "Episode V: Embrace the Dark Side."

Who, exactly, are Crew fans being encouraged to intimidate with all-black attire? Some huge names in world soccer, actually.

The Galaxy has always boasted the league's most celeb-heavy lineup, but never before has the squad accumulated this much firepower. A quick look at some faces the casual sports fan might actually recognize:

David Beckham

Who: The most famous athlete in the world.

Why: Besides a flair for pinpoint assists and free kicks so dazzling they spawned a movie title? His striking good looks, his celebrity wife and a slew of endorsement deals.

When: He has been suiting up for the Galaxy since 2007, though injuries and a loan to AC Milan have kept him from being a full-time presence until this season.

How: MLS created a special rule that allowed teams to sign one "designated player" who can be paid above the salary cap.

Landon Donovan

Who: The most famous - and arguably best - soccer player in U.S. history.

Why: At this rate, the Californian will easily surpass Brian McBride's national team goal-scoring record and Jeff Cunningham's MLS record someday. Plus, he's begun scoring them in the clutch; remember last year's World Cup?

When: Donovan began suiting up for the Galaxy in 2005, and he had a more successful stint overseas on loan to Everton of the English Premier League during winter 2009-10.

How: After one of Donovan's failed tours of duty in Europe - he spent winter 2004-05 languishing on the bench for German club Bayer Leverkusen - he returned to MLS, conveniently switching from San Jose to the bright spotlight of Los Angeles.

Robbie Keane

Who: One of the greatest goal-scorers of all time.

Why: He racked up a blockbuster 15-year European playing career, highlighted by a six-year stint with London's Tottenham Hotspur during which he tallied 80 goals. He has also scored 111 times for Ireland's national team.

When: Keane signed with MLS last month and was assigned to the Galaxy, of course.

How: MLS long since abridged the designated player rule to allow teams to keep more than one superstar on their roster, but even L.A. had to shed all-star forward Juan Pablo Angel to make this transaction work.

Columbus Crew vs. Los Angeles Galaxy

Crew Stadium

7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24

1 Black and Gold Blvd., Fairgrounds