Going from zero to 60 might not be the ideal situation for Jason Garey, but he’s not complaining.
Garey is a perennial spark off the bench in Columbus and has been since he joined the club in 2006, parlaying an All-American career at Maryland into a role as one of the most valuable reserves on one of the league’s best teams.
Count last weekend’s 3-2 Crew win over New England as the high point of Garey’s season thus far, and further proof he’s making the most of his time on the pitch.
Garey came on in the 71st minute of a 2-2 stalemate against the Revs on Saturday, then used a header off a Guillermo Barros Schelotto cross to set up the game-winning rebound goal for Robbie Rogers.
“That was the nice thing about the game. I got slipped in maybe the 70th minute,” Garey said. “I actually had time to breathe a little bit and get in the flow of the game.”
That doesn’t always happen. Garey has twice come off the bench in the 90th minute this season, and played four minutes in another. His longest outing was 20 minutes at FC Dallas on April 10.
“Sometimes when you come in with a couple of minutes to go it’s very hectic and you don’t actually get a touch on the ball,” he said.
Still, Garey’s getting due praise from his teammates for his role off the bench. He nearly logged a late assist against the Revs, if not for a missed chance for Eddie Gaven.
“Jason did a great job coming in,” Gaven said. “He helped set up our winning goal and he set me up for what should have been an insurance goal as well.”
Garey has made only 31 starts in 66 career games, but he’s managed to squeeze out 13 goals and four assists in his limited duty.
“I try to just get in there and change it up a little bit, have some fresh legs,” he said.
The bench was unusually active against New England considering coach Robert Warzycha’s penchant for not tinkering with a successful formula.
Emmanuel Ekpo subbed for midfielder Adam Moffat in the 78th and offseason signee Sergio Herrera made his debut as a replacement for forward Steven Lenhart in the 90th.
“Jason Garey made a major difference and Ekpo did too, but it has to be the right time for the subs,” coach Robert Warzycha said. “Sergio came in the last minute and he made a huge play.”
Herrera settled a weak clearance by Preston Burpo that started the sequence for the winner.
“He intercepted the goal kick and made a good pass to Guillermo then made a great run in the box,” Warzycha said. “He froze the goalie and the defender marking Jason Garey had to play honest.”
The team’s success speaks to the quantity and quality of players Warzycha has at his disposal. Even with the possibility of losing Rogers and defender Chad Marshall to the U.S. World Cup team the Crew should remain a force in the East.
“That’s something we’ve always had on this team,” Gaven said. “We probably have the deepest team in the league.”