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 West.
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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 season.
“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 blame."
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 Philadelphia.”