Eddie Gaven was in this position before – the 44th minute, to be exact – when he could have given the Columbua Crew the lead. Wide open at the far post with Zac MacMath in no-man's land, his shot off a cross by Dilly Duka on Wednesday night at PPL Park didn’t go as planned.
“I hit it into the 20th row,” he told MLSsoccer.com in phone interview.
The second time around, there would be no rushing, even though stoppage time was winding down and the short-handed, tired Crew would have been happy with a draw after the 68th-minute ejection of defender Josh Williams.
“If we had held on and kept it 1-1, that would have been a good result with the red card and how well they were playing,” Crew captain Chad Marshall said by phone.
But Gaven and the Columbus attackers had different ideas.
The ever-impressive Federico Higuaín took advantage of a friendly bounce in midfield before playing Justin Meram through, and though Meram appeared to get tangled with MacMath, he was able to push the ball over to an unmarked Gaven, who made no mistake the second time around.
“I just swung my foot at it and luckily it went in,” said Gaven, who scored his team-best seventh goal. “I wanted to make sure I took my time and hit it cleanly. If you do that, more times than not the ball’s going to go in.”
It was an improbable win for the Crew (11-8-6) who extended their unbeaten run to 3-0-2 since Aug. 15 and drew even with sixth-place Montreal, their opponent Saturday at Crew Stadium.
“It was very exhausting to say the least,” goalkeeper Matt Lampson told MLSsoccer.com by phone. “To assume that much pressure, especially with 10 men on the field, is a very tiring thing.
“It was massive amounts of relief when Eddie scored. We needed three points and we snuck out of here with three.”