Injury to Eddie Gaven sends Crew reeling

Columbus fails to recover from losing influential midfielder

When midfielder Eddie Gaven was knocked into the
knee of Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy while reaching for a Guillermo Barros
Schelotto cross, the Crew did not get the call and also lost its most reliable player in the process.

Just 13 minutes into Saturday’s match at The Home Depot Center, Gaven was forced to leave after suffering a head injury and it was all downhill from
there as the Eastern Conference leader was humbled by the worst team in the


The 3-1 thrashing was the heaviest loss on the road for the Crew since a 4-1
defeat vs. Real Salt Lake on April 2, 2009. It also represented the most goals allowed
by Columbus since RSL’s 3-2 playoff victory at Columbus on Nov. 5.

“The biggest loss tonight was Eddie Gaven,” coach Robert
Warzycha said.

Gaven appeared to lose consciousness and was woozy when he
was helped off the field. He was hospitalized briefly but later rejoined the
team at its hotel.

“It was scary,” forward Steven Lenhart said. “Any injury
like that, any head injury is just not cool. Everyone said a little prayer for
him on the sideline but you’ve got to continue on with the game.”

If there was any semblance of a positive note for the Crew
it was the goal in the 88th minute by Lenhart, who came off the bench to score on a pass
from Jason Garey to make it 3-1. Lenhart hadn’t scored since May 1 and the
Crew were scoreless in 288 minutes on the road until his second tally of the

“Too little too late,” said Lenhart, who missed the past two
games with a broken nose. “We were pushing. (Garey) played a good ball in. I
closed my eyes and it hit my chest. Then I closed my eyes again and poked it
over the goalie.”

Gaven’s early departure unsettled the Crew (10-4-4) for
awhile as Robbie Rogers took over on the right wing. But that was not the reason
for the abysmal defensive showing.

“The defensive mistakes we made aren’t supposed to happen,”
Warzycha said.

Shaun Francis, making his second straight start at left
back, played like the rookie he is in his third MLS game.

“It was not only him," Warzycha said. "There were more guys who shared the

Chivas USA forward Justin Braun got inside of Francis for a header in the 37th
minute for the first goal and the defender had a major miscommunication gaffe with
'keeper William Hesmer that led to the second in the 45th minute to
seal the loss.

Francis was guilty, along with many of his teammates, of ball
watching as Carlos Borja scored in the 53rd minute.

“You try to forget about this one,” Lenhart said.

The Crew has little time to regroup. The second of a
three-game road trip is Thursday at Philadelphia as it looks to end a 0-2-2 streak
away from Crew Stadium.

“I think it will be good for us to play again so soon,”
Lenhart said. “We have to get a sharper in training before we go to