Eddie Gaven

Eddie Gaven retires from soccer at age 27

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In a surprising move, Columbus Crew and Major League Soccer veteran Eddie Gaven retired on Thursday, at age 27. In a prepared statement, he said he wants to pursue other options.

Gaven’s full statement, published on the Crew website, reads:

I would like to thank my teammates, the Crew organization and the fans for all their support over the years. I will always cherish the memories, especially winning MLS Cup in 2008. I am incredibly blessed to have been a professional soccer player and am extremely grateful to MLS and the Crew for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to fulfill my dream. For personal reasons, I will be retiring from professional soccer. I realize this may come as a surprise, but it is something I have been contemplating for some time, and after discussing it thoroughly with my family, I know in my heart that now is the right time to start the next chapter in my life. I wish the Crew nothing but the best moving forward. Thank you.

A torn anterior cruciate knee ligament knocked Gaven out for the season in May. He went down in the 85th minute of the Crew’s U.S. Open Cup victory over the Dayton Dutch Lions and had surgery shortly thereafter.

However, the wording of his statement and reaction from franchise chairman Anthony Precourt suggest that Gaven’s retirement is not related to the injury.

Gaven was drafted in 2003 by the New York/New Jersey MetroStars, where he spent three seasons before moving to Columbus. Bob Bradley was the coach of that team, and Gaven scored his first MLS goal in memorable fashion, after Bradley exploited a loophole in the old league rules to get him on the field as a fourth substitute.

In the early days of MLS, teams could make three field-player substitutions plus one goalkeeper sub per match. Before overtime kicked off against D.C. United, Bradley put goalkeeper Tim Howard on the field and brought a 16-year-old Gaven on as a substitute in goal.

Almost immediately, John Wolyniec put the ball out of play to allow Howard to switch with Gaven and go back in between the pipes, 15 seconds into the overtime period. In the ninth minute, Gaven found the back of the net for his first of 51 MLS goals.

There’s no better tribute to Gaven and the early days of the league than to watch the video:

ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings

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Our weekly re-ordering of Major League Soccer teams, following 18 rounds of play:

19. D.C. United – In league games, Ben Olsen’s team has not scored in the run of play since Kyle Porter knocked one in back on May 19. That’s six games without a goal that didn’t come from the penalty spot. Oh, my.

18. Chivas USA – Carlos Bocanegra’s first game could be July 12 at Philadelphia. (The former U.S. captain was signed Monday.) And Erick “Cubo” Torres may be en route, too. Are there signs of life here?

17. Toronto FC – The only good news from 1-0 loss at home to Real Salt Lake: Danny Koevermans got back into the starting lineup for the first time in almost 12 months.

16. San Jose Earthquakes – Are the Goonies back? A spirited three-goal rally in Saturday’s win over the Galaxy (3-2) before a packed Stanford Stadium has the look of one to build on.

15. Columbus – After an initial win, the Crew is now 0-2 since glue-man midfielder Eddie Gaven and center back Glauber fell to season-ending injuries.

14. Chicago Fire – Frank Klopas’ team had the weekend off and now prepare to face San Jose. Anyone remember the beauty Chris Rolfe scored against the Earthquakes last year?

13. LA Galaxy – Bruce Arena was understandably unhappy after his team blew a 2-0 lead. “I’m absolutely embarrassed at that performance,” he said. “It’s disgraceful”

12. Colorado Rapids – A comeback 4-3 win at Montreal is surely one of the best “Ws” in two years under manager Oscar Pareja. Dillon Powers and Deshorn Brown keep building their Rookie of the Year cases.

11. Houston Dynamo – Another match, another day of bankrupt offense in the latest blanking, a 2-0 loss in New York. Perhaps Will Bruin’s departure for Gold Cup duty is a blessing in disguise, as a lineup adjustment can perhaps shake something loose.

10. New England Revolution – A 1-1 draw at Chivas USA puts the Revolution record at 3-1-3 since early May. Diego Fagundez got another assist in his ongoing, outstanding season.

9. New York Red Bulls – Finally, Fabian Espindola (pictured, above) got another goal! The former RSL man hit his first in more than two months in a 2-0 win over Houston.

8. Vancouver Whitecaps – After such a long run with very little success away from B.C. Place, Martin Rennie’s team has picked up points on four of its last five road matches. They team is 2-1-2 in that time – which is pretty darned good.

7. Philadelphia Union – Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath howled, feeling he was fouled on the sequence that led to Blas Perez’s late equalizer. But, uh … what in the world was he doing trying to catch that ball rather than aggressively punch it into next week?

6. Seattle Sounders – A big opportunity awaits Wednesday: With the weekend off to rest up, Sigi Schmid and his Sounders get a reeling D.C. United in town.

5. Sporting Kansas City – Kei Kamara made his case for Player of the Week with two very well-taken goals in a 3-2 win over Columbus. Makes you wonder why it took so long for him to get back into SKC’s starting 11 after returning from England.

4. Montreal Impact – A month after giving up three goals at home to Philadelphia, the Impact concedes four at home to Colorado (in a 4-3 loss). Those are sure warning signs that something isn’t quite right in the back.

3. FC Dallas – Another week, another white knuckle comeback. Blas Perez scored one in stoppage time that didn’t count. No matter … he scored another one, this one even deeper into injury time, and it counted as the equalizer in a 2-2 draw in Philadelphia.

2. Real Salt Lake – Tough personnel times are ahead as Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando and Alvaro Saborio will miss significant time while on Gold Cup duty.

1. Portland Timbers – The Timbers next chance to extend that showy unbeaten streak (now at 18 games in all competitions, 15 in league play) happens in Columbus this weekend.

Examining a few relevant or intriguing MLS statistics

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Statistics are hardly the straw the stirs soccer the way it does so many other American sports. But there are certainly numbers the rise above others in significance.

Periodically, I like to pour carefully through the stack of stats and draw a circle around a few of them.

From Major League Soccer’s latest stats pack, here are some potentially talkers, and what makes them so.

  • San Jose bully-boy center back Victor Bernardez will miss Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier versus the United States for a yellow card accumulation (well, “accumulation” being two when it comes to World Cup qualifying). A surprise? Nah … not if you consider than Bernardez is tied atop the leaders with six cautions.
  • A big difference in FC Dallas this year and FC Dallas’ version of 2012: the ability to see out the results, to properly manage matches in late minutes. Result: Dallas is a league-best 6-0-0 in one-goal games.
  • Bruce Arena and the Galaxy may be correct to complain about the alleged foul that led to Marcelo Sarvas’ dodgy yellow card late in last week’s match against Real Salt Lake. (We went over that one here.) But! … Sarvas does foul a lot. And he has probably deserved another card or two along the way for persistent fouling. So, karmic justice? Either way, he leads the league in fouls committed with 42.
  • Dallas’ David Ferreira (pictured) leads the league in fouls suffered with 43. But Columbus’ Eddie Gaven is second with 38, and he has played in two or three fewer matches than the leaders around him.  That just helps underscore how much the Crew will miss that guy; Gaven recently suffered an ACL tear.

(MORE: MLS Preview — Portland hosting Dallas)

  • Most eye-popping stat out there: There have been 12 own goals in MLS this year. Vancouver has four of them! Man, they should kick one to start the match just to get the damn thing over with.
  • You know how everybody kept expecting this big goalkeeper battle in New York once Ryan Meara got past his injury, and how we thought he was almost ready in preseason? Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles has started more matches (16) than any other player in the league.
  • New England’s Bobby Shuttleworth has the league’s top saves percentage, 80.4. Tough to say, but longtime Revs backstopper Matt Reis is going to have a tough, tough time ever getting that job back.
  • D.C. United has gone 295 minutes without a goal in league matches. Not to worry; they’ve got some time before matching New England’s 394-minute scoreless skid earlier this year.

ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings

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19. Chivas USA – The Chelis era is over – and wasn’t that ridiculously fast? The first match upon removal of the increasingly erratic club’s charismatic manager didn’t go well, a 2-0 loss at home to Seattle.

18. D.C. United – Don’t be fooled by D.C. United moving out of last place. It really looks like a head-scratcher considering Ben Olsen’s team lost (again, this time to Chicago) to prolong the club record 11-game winless streak. Thing is, Chivas USA just looks worse now.

17. Toronto FC – Some of the writers around Toronto felt the Reds deserved better than a 1-1 draw at home to Philly. Then again, good teams find a way; poor or average teams don’t. Doneil Henry’s needless sending off didn’t help.

16. Chicago Fire – Mike Magee (pictured above) certainly didn’t leave the scoring magic back in L.A.; the former Galaxy man scored his first for Chicago in a 2-0 win over D.C. United.  Meanwhile, they appear to be moving on, accepting life without defensive brain Arne Friedrich.

15. San Jose Earthquakes – Maybe things will go a little better in Champions League, because they just aren’t falling right in league play. (San Jose fell in Utah over the weekend, 3-0.) The ‘Quakes drew Montreal and a Guatemalan side (TBD) in Champions League group play.

14. Vancouver Whitecaps – Kenny Miller scored! Wait a minute, he’s still with the club? A 2-1 win at New York was impressive enough, but then you consider that key men Darren Mattocks, Gershon Koffie and Nigel Reo-Coker all sat out and it becomes more so. (Even if the Red Bulls were reduced to 10 in the second half.)

13. Columbus – Terrible news for the club as midfielder Eddie Gaven, the real glue around Crew Stadium over the last couple of seasons, suffered a season-ending knee injury last week in a U.S. Open Cup match. Justin Meram looks like the man who needs to step in and step up – but it’s a big ask considering all the little things Gaven did.

12. Philadelphia Union – You know, it’s really just cut-and-paste at this point. So here goes: “Jack McInerney scored again.” He’s up to a league-leading 10. Oh, but this part is new: his name was on the 35-man preliminary U.S. Gold Cup roster list.

11. New England Revolution – Hottest club in MLS? Jay Heaps’ Revs have won four in a row and are unbeaten in five straight in all competitions. And they put a five-spot on the champs last week, the first time the club had hit net that often in a match since 2004.

10. Colorado Rapids – Atiba Harris scored both goals in a 2-2 draw with Dallas, but left back Chris Klute was just as impressive as the Rapids remained unbeaten in six league matches. (Oscar Pareja’s club did crash out of Open Cup play last week in a third-round loss at Orlando City.)

9. Seattle Sounders – Last in the West fairly recently, Sigi Schmid’s Sounders have climbed to sixth, one spot out of the playoff zone. And they have a game or two in hand on all the teams in front of them.

8. LA Galaxy – Goalkeeper Carlo Cuducini was so humbled by a 5-0 loss in New England, he apologized to the fans about it. Robbie Rogers made a second appearance, again off the bench.

7. New York Red Bulls – A loss at home to Vancouver (a club that rarely win on the road) brought down the Red Bulls’ seven-game unbeaten streak.  All in all, we’ve seen a lot better from Mike Petke’s club. Meanwhile, ability to stay on the doggone field was Jamison Olave’s issue at Real Salt Lake – and his second half expulsion will be a sore point.

6. Real Salt Lake – Javier Morales, 33, is reminding all those young midfielders around Rio Rinto that he’s not quite ready to yield his spot just yet. Another big match from the RSL playmaker steered his side to a 3-0 win over San Jose.

5. Houston Dynamo – The “good” was a 1-1 draw at Columbus, but the “bad” is in an injury list that’s getting alarmingly long. Adam Moffat and Eric Brunner went off during the match in Ohio, an unfortunate turn for Dominic Kinnear’s team, which is already shorthanded due to international absences.

source: Getty Images

4. Sporting Kansas City – Hot-headedness was rampant, on the sidelines and on the field, as KC lost at home for the third time this year. Yes, third. We double checked. (Montreal on Saturday joined previous 2013 Sporting Park conquerors Portland and Seattle.)

3. Portland Timbers – The club backed up Caleb Porter’s bold U.S. Open Cup predictions before the Timbers took the weekend off in MLS play. Up this week: a trip into Toyota Park to meet Chicago.

2. Montreal Impact – Not sure what it is about Sporting KC that drives manager Marco Schallibaum so crazy, but he was sent off at halftime. It didn’t bother the club, apparently, as the Impact went on to a big 2-1 win at Sporting Park.

1. FC Dallas – Dallas will now deal with life minus its top striker and starting goalkeeper, Blas Perez (pictured above) and Raul Fernandez, who will be away on international duty. Perez had both goals as Dallas tied Colorado on the road, 2-2. He has a team-leading five strikes this year.

Eddie Gaven out, which key MLS players are also missing?

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The Columbus Crew were rocked by the news that their star midfielder, Eddie Gaven, is out for the season after tearing his ACL in Open Cup action against the Dayton Dutch Lions on Wednesday.

Gaven is the heart and soul of Columbus’ midfield and news of injuries has been met with despair and devastation from fans of the Crew, and fans around the league.

The 26-year-old is a league veteran already.

Gaven is in his tenth MLS season and was once again proving critical to Columbus’ aim of winning silverware, or at least making the playoffs.

Now that hangs in the balance. As the bearded maestro is done for the 2013 season.

But with Gaven so important to the Crew’s success, have injuries to other key MLS players this season been as instrumental to their teams success? Let’s take a quick gander.

Arne Freidrich (Chicago Fire)

The former German international was one of the main reasons Chicago made the playoffs last season. With Freidrich suffering a hip injury throughout this season, his absence on the back line has led to the Fire’s steep decline. Chicago’s 2012 defender of the year has returned home to Germany earlier this week for specialist treatment on his injured hip. The Fire will be hoping and praying the 34-year-old can return this season.

Calen Carr (Houston Dynamo)

This man is badly needed in Houston. He just gives them something different and his endless running allows Houston’s other players to exploit plenty of gaps. Without Carr the Dynamo don’t look as dynamic going forward. The 30-year-old is still out after having left knee surgery, with Houston rumored to be in for Carlton Cole and others to try and bolster their offense after losing Cam Weaver too. The scorer of the opening goal in MLS Cup 2012 should return before the end of the year. Houston need him.

Jay DeMerit (Vancouver Whitecaps)

One of those gut-wrenching moments occurred in Vancouver’s first-game of the season. DeMerit crumbled in a heap in agony, just minutes into the MLS season against Toronto FC. The 33-year-old former Watford defender ruptured his Achilles tendon and is unlikely to return anytime soon. Only San Jose and Chivas USA have conceded more goals than Martin Rennie’s team. Vancouver’s captain is a big miss at the heart of their defense.

Bright Dike (Portland Timbers)

Just think how many more goals Portland would’ve scored if Dike didn’t tear his left ACL? Wow. With the Timbers already scoring the most goals in the league, 22 through 13 games, the Nigerian international would have added more goals and plenty of pace and power to an already stacked offense. Dike, 26, has an outside chance of returning this summer. What an addition that would be after his blistering finish to last season — 5 goals in the last 11 games — that resulted in a call up to the Nigerian squad.